Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Perceval (Percival) Institute, St Minver

Adverts can be exciting  - and this one is particularly so. We know that Smile, the band that preceded Queen, played in some quite obscure venues during 1969 when they came to Cornwall, but there has never been much evidence. Until now.

I was alerted to this gig by members of Constable Zippos Electric Commode Band, Nigel Chappell and Wynn Jones who remember supporting Smile at St Somewhere in North Cornwall.

Note that the advert mentions Smile's latest record (actually their only record (!)). Which is a really nice detail, though sadly 'Earth' was never released in the UK...

So how obscure is this venue? Well this is what it looks like now. It's in the middle of a very rural and remote part of North Cornwall, the best part of an hour's drive from Truro...but the organiser had laid on buses so it was probably well attended...I have a feeling in fact that the organiser is someone that booked The Reaction in 1968 because there were a few gigs they played where the same little Lion motif was used in the ad...

UPDATE 14/10/10 Talking to Nigel and finding the advert inspired me to drive up to St Minver today. It is, as I thought, a very small picturesque village of less than 20 houses, nearly an hour's drive from Truro down single track B roads etc. There is a pub and a post office and Maureen, who works there, keeps the key.

As you can see inside it really is a 'classic' village hall. Built in the 1890s it has lovely stonework and neo-gothic stylings.This photo is looking towards the end that the stage would have been when Roger Taylor, Brian May and Freddie Mercury were here.  In fact Maureen said that it's always had a temporary stage. There is an accounts book for the Institute that goes back to the 40s. On the day that Smile played here the accounts just say 'Dance'. As you can see the organiser (who could have been celebrity chef Rick Stein as he was involved with promoting dances from his base in Padstow) paid £4 - 10/- for the hire.

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