The Atomic Sunrise festival, held at the Roundhouse between 9 and 15 March 1970, was the direct consequence of the murderous events at Altamont the previous December. The Grateful Dead not only pulled out of that gig: they also withdrew from a scheduled appearance at the Roundhouse the following March, which left a week free to mount what was billed as “Seven Nights of Celebration” in a “Living Theatre Environment”.
Three bands were scheduled to play each night, many of them regulars at the Roundhouse's Sunday Implosion gigs, with The Living Theatre – officially the oldest experimental company in the world – moving among the crowd like the counter- cultural equivalent of a flash mob, but with social/political consciousness-raising rather than marketing as the intent. They were the resident artistes at Atomic Sunrise, on a bill that included many names welded firmly to that time: Graham Bond (whose presence deterred the billed but absent Black Sabbath), Brian Auger, Third Ear Band, Fat Mattress, Gypsy. But none of these are what gives the film to be premiered at the Roundhouse on 11 March its cachet. That lies with the unique, thrilling footage of Bowie, Genesis, and Hawkwind at formative stages of their careers. There is nothing else like it on film.