I was a child in the 1960s, but I knew something was going on out there that I desperately wanted to be part of.
Hippies roamed the streets, yes even in Edinburgh, and to me they were mysterious, free, beautiful, enviable.
I loved the hair, beads, maxi dresses and cheesecloth shirts, I’m not even going to mention the guys’ tight trousers- and I can still bring to mind the distinctive pong of my bezzie’s Afghan coat.
The closest I could get to the vibe was huddling over my tranny at night listening to Radio Luxembourg.
The music from what seems like five golden years from 1966 to 71 is ingrained in my generation’s DNA, so I was off to Eden Court along with many other baby-boomers with some anticipation last night to revisit those years in Maple Tree Entertainment’s touring Summer of Love musical show.
It’s 1967, and street signs show we are on Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, the epi-centre of the hippie movement.
Crackly black and white footage projected onto the back of the stage shows ads and newsreels of the time- Vietnam permeating everything of course.
When not showing these, the screen is full of those kaleidoscopic, psychedelic images of the age.
The device is not entirely successful, as the sound is too loud and distorted, the clips pass too fast, and anyway the silver-heads who dominate the audience had been there and done all that, didn’t need a vague attempt at a documentary of the era.
We also didn’t really need the half-hearted love story that started before the interval and fortunately fizzled out.
No, what we wanted was THE MUSIC, and we certainly got that in spades.
Eight excellent singer/musicians overcame the challenging sound system to take us through forty favourites including Janis Joplin, Hendrix, The Zombies, The Kinks, Mamas and Papas, The Doors, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones…
My friend and I couldn’t help niggling about the period detail in the costumes- ‘platform soles didn’t come until later’, ‘much more hair, beads and face paint needed’ but there were plenty of touches to love- remember the scarf hanging from belt look favoured by blokes at that time? And the bib-down dungarees? And the ubiquitous harmonica that always seemed to pitch up at the end of everything?
The performers have musical theatre and cruise ship credentials in their pedigrees, and certainly knew how to win over an audience with irrepressible exuberance- to the extent that, hips and knees permitting of course, the silver heads were on their feet and grooving in the aisles.
It’s really not fair to expect 20-somethings to recreate our era exactly, but some of us felt it might be desirable for them to Turn On Tune In and Drop Out just a wee bit, but perhaps that’s just our age.
The Summer of Love tour continues on to its final three dates, Stoke, Barrow-in-Furness and Dartford.