Andrew Cross's first book of photography was Some Trains in America. He is currently working with Carl Palmer on a film about the drum solo.

This must be the place

On 21st August 1976 towards the end of a blistering hot summer afternoon, I and 200,000 other people witnessed Lynyrd Skynyrd going down a storm in a corner of Knebworth Park, Hertfordshire. I was fifteen, this was my third rock concert only and my first time for all rock 'n' roll had famously promised.

I revisited Knebworth to see Genesis in 1978 and Led Zeppelin in 1979. I started to attend other festivals, too, some big, some glamorous, some less so. Part of the attraction was an
underlying fascination with the places where festivals were held and how the cycle of the day influenced their atmosphere.

I was convinced these moments of glorious detachment from the rest of the world were defined in part by the location. There was something mystical about the festivals' temporary presence
in the landscape; there was recognition that they were unrepeatable and unique in scale, which would cause them to become the subject of legend.

I returned to Knebworth on 21st August 2006. Using small photos taken in 1976 I identified the spot on which I had spent the day thirty years earlier. And from that place I filmed a performance of "Free Bird" as though Lynyrd Skynyrd were still there. Only the sound of trees and birds can be heard.

On 11th August 2008 – the Led Zeppelin anniversary – I chose a central fixed position and photographed the site of the stage from sunrise to sunset. It was a particular and somewhat demanding project. Part homage, part conceptual exercise, I sat alone in a field for over eighteen hours with little to do except observe subtle changes in the otherwise generally overcast sky.

It is interesting how little the environment of Knebworth Park has changed over the three passing decades. Big events come and go very quickly; they are almost ethereal. During a festival when all attention is focused in one way, the sky moves gently and the trees rustle on just as they always do with little regard for what is happening around them.

I point the camera at a place redolent of my past and the lens is filled by images of an ever-present now. Slightly absurd? Possibly. But then so was the sight of thousands of British gathered in a picturesque English landscape singing about a "sweet home" in Alabama. It turns out the band weren't from Alabama either.

From the series "Hats off to Roy Harper", Knebworth Park, 11th August 2008

Knebworth Park, 21st August 1976



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