Gig reviews

14 July 1973

Roskilde Festival, Denmark 1973

SEVERAL THINGS had combined to make Fumble slightly more nervous than usual. They were on their second visit to Denmark last week but this time they were touring as a hit band, their recreation of Ricky Nelson's "Hello Mary Lou" had just jumped to number 5 in the National Charts and they were set to headline on the Saturday night of Denmark's biggest open air festival the Roskilde Festival at Roskildefonden just outside Copenhagen.
If you've seen Fumble you'll know that their speciality is playing the music of the past. "We've stopped looking at it that way," says evocatvely named Mario Ferrari who plays bass. "We're really just playing the music we like best."
Their set includes such masterpieces as Johnny Tillotson's "Poetry In Motion", several Elvis numbers, "Nut Rocker" and "Take Good Care Of My Baby". They've been concentrating on this music for the past 18 months and they are now finding almost a simultaneous breakthrough in the UK and in Europe. If Fumble had called themselves the High School Hop it would have described their music perfectly. On stage they wear American high school gear and although they have absolutely no stage routines worked out their obvious enthusiasm for their music makes them move in a way very reminiscent of the bands of their chosen period. The line up is the slightly less than conventional guitar, piano, bass and drums bot Sean's piano plays an incredibly important part in getting the authentic tinkle in many of the numbers. Drummer Barry Pike has had an extremely difficult job to discipline himself to play the rudimental drums required for the material. Fumble aren't new to the big time, however. They've not been in the centre of attraction before but doing a British and Americn tour with David Bowie is a pretty enlightening experience. On the festival site there's an object lesson for British festival goers and promotors. In the balmy evening sit close on 20.000 people mostly camped on a flat site in front of a fairly modest stage area. There are no heavies onthe gates - they're just not needed in Denmark. Right behind the stage a large Caravan is placed at Fumble's disposal and their publicist tells them to get ready for photo sessions and interviews before they start having to get changed. The tension starts to mount. On stage Tubbs, the chief man in their road crew is checking the piano and the mikes while Des is suggesting that he might get all of the festival fans to light a match and hold it up in the air. "How many of them speak english?" he asks. "Most of them" says someone an the idea's in. The compere ("He used to be with Burning Red Ivanhoe") pops in and goes over his introduction with them. "Welcome Fumble" he tells the crowd and to a great roar they're on stage and into their first rocker. It's a couple of numbers before they settle down and get used to the monitors and the festival sound. The audience waits intently to hear and see what this British group are like. Rumours that they're like Sha Na Na have been circulating but they're obviously not and as Mario woah's into "Poetry In Motion" it's obvious that the era is as dear to the Danes as it is to the British and Americans. For that reason if Fumble butchered the music they'd have no chance. But they don't and it's obvious that they sincerely enjoy what they are playing. Sean and Barry smile at each other as they bang out the intro to B. Bumble's "Nut Rocker" and then Des asks the crowd to hold up a match. The stage lights go right down and then the whole festival area is ablaze with falme as the danes say "Yes" to Fumble and hold aloft anything that will burn peacefully. From then Fumble rock worward with everyone with them. Three times they leave the stage and three times the roars pull them back. In the car home it's the talk out and the unwinding procecure. "Can Fumble play the festival again next year?" "Well, that depends..."
By Ray Hammond.