Alvin Lee - guitar, harmonica, vocals; Mick Hawksworth - bass; Tom Compton - drums
Their appearance at the 1969 Woodstock Festival catapulted Ten Years After into the realm of superstardom. The subsequent release of "I'm Going Home" in the Woodstock movie and on the soundtrack album inspired countless guitar players and became a staple of FM radio throughout the next decade. The band continued releasing acclaimed albums in the early 1970s, including the 1971 release, A Space In Time and Rock And Roll Music To The World the following year. By this point, Lee was looking to expand his musical horizons and began working outside the band, releasing the more introspective "On The Road To Freedom" in collaboration with Mylon Le Fevre. Ten Years After's innovative mix of blues, swing jazz, and high energy rock remained in high demand, especially in the United States, where the group would ultimately tour 28 times in seven years, more than any other U.K. band.
Although still a big draw, by the mid-1970s, Lee's enthusiasm for the group was reaching an end and he began pursuing a solo career. He finished out the decade by forming a new band in the power trio mode that he christened appropriately enough, Ten Years Later. His new partners included bass player Mick Hawksworth, who had been an integral part of the late-1960s blues, jazz, metal outfit, Andromeda and later in Fuzzy Duck, one of England's harder-edged progressive rock bands in the early-1970s. Lee also recruited the powerhouse drummer, Tom Compton, who would later become Johnny Winter's longest serving drummer. The trio would release two albums, 1978's Ride On and Rocket Fuel the following year, while touring extensively throughout Europe and the United States.
Thanks to Ten Years After's popularity on San Francisco's radio stations and Bill Graham, who first invited the group to America a decade earlier, this Winterland performance turned out to be a peak moment on the 1978 tour. Performing both new and classic material, this Ten Years Later performance presents a rejuvenated Alvin Lee, now fronting a rhythm section capable of immense power. In addition to Lee's trademark Gibson 335 and wall of Marshalls, drummer Compton sported a massive double bass-drum array and Hawksworth played a double neck bass, making the group's equipment a visually striking sight to behold.
Ten Years Later first present "Gonna Turn You On," a standout track from their new album, Rocket Fuel. One can immediately tell Lee is pumped up, as his enthusiastic yelps lead in to some high-energy rock and roll to kick off the set. Following this initial warm-up exercise, Lee scrapes the neck of his guitar up and down his microphone stand and then he cuts into the classic riff that begins "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl," a staple from Ten Years After's repertoire. Following the first verse, the group tears into a exhilarating Cream-like jam with Lee's fingers flying up and down the frets, displaying the blazing speed and dexterity that he is so well known for.
Sonny Boy Williamson's "Help Me" follows, another staple of Lee's repertoire with Ten Years After. This burning blues number features Lee playing blues harp as well as displaying an astonishingly wide range of guitar creativity. This leads up to the centerpiece of the set, "Ain't Nothin; Shakin'," another new song from the Rocket Fuel album. This nearly 20-minute rocker clearly shows the inspired interplay between Lee and Hawksworth, as well as the powerful double-bass drum footwork of Compton, who is overflowing with energy here. This number becomes a showcase for Compton, who gets an extensive drum solo and features several blazing jams from Lee before it concludes with his humorous shout of "Ole."
A quick take on "Scat Thing," in which Lee unison scat sings to his nimble guitar playing, ends with a guitar quote from Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love." Then the group tears into "Hey Joe," where they pay tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Not straying too far from the familiar Hendrix Experience arrangement, this is a perfect vehicle for this power trio lineup. Lee's solos burn with intensity here as the rhythm section propel him along. With the audience now firmly entranced, Lee pulls out all the stops for a set concluding "I'm Going Home." Always a crowd pleaser, Lee's remarkably fluid solos leave one gasping for breath, bringing this set to a blistering close.
The San Francisco audience has no intention of letting the band go just yet, despite the fact that they are not the headliner this night, and they coax them back for an encore. With limited time, the group compresses everything Lee learned from listening to guitarists like Chuck Berry and Scotty Moore into four minutes of rock 'n' roll frenzy, with "Choo Choo Mama" and "Rip It Up."