4 December 2009

Hawklords Implosion

After two aborted attempts earlier this year, the Hawklords Implosion, a memorial concert for Barney Bubbles, final landed with a bang at the 229 Club in Great Portland Street.

The event ran from 3pm to 10pm and featured concerts by The Imperial Pompadours, Inner City Unit, Quintessence and Hawklords, as well as Robert Calvert's play about Jimi Hendrix, The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice. With a line-up like that I was certain to be going!

The afternoon started with us all packed in an unimpressive bunker that looked more as though it was designed to protect Londoners from imminent nuclear destruction rather than entertain anybody. It had a bar though and a Grolsch, even at £3.70 a pint in a plastic vessel, was a welcome relief.

A little while later the truth was revealed and we moved from the cramped ante-room into a proper concert hall with a high stage and lots of space for milling and dancing. As always I headed towards the front.

The Imperial Pompadours were on first with an eclectic set that told a story that I could not follow, not that it matter in the least as the music was good and that is what I was there for.

Nik Turner was back on stage a short while later, this time with Inner City Unit. This was a rockier set and was much appreciated by the crowd most of whom near to me where already very familiar with the music.

Apart from the opening number, which Space Ritual usually play, the songs were all new to me but they were accessible and a lot of fun.

Next it was back into the bunker for the Bob Calvert play. Unfortunately the bunker was very noisy but fortunately I was able to get close enough to the front to hear the two actors. The play impressed me and I'd like to see some performed in a theatre some time.

Quintessence were on the main stage by this time, which helped to clear some of the rowdier elements from the bunker, and I just managed to catch the last part of their last song. That was enough.

Then we had the main act, various Hawkwind legends playing under the name Hawklords with a re-enactment of Space Ritual. With a set list like that and the all-star line-up they could hardly go wrong, and they didn't. It was an excellent and very enjoyable performance. Dancing happened. Lots of it.

I was not too sure what to make of Ron Tree's distinctive vocals but, if nothing else, they served to make the versions quite different from the ones that I am familiar with.

There was time for a little more at the end and I was delighted when we jumped forward a few years to the late 70s' Charisma era with Steppenwolf and Psi Power. And after some input from the happy audience the evening ended with, no surprises, Silver Machine.

It was a long day with plenty of standing and only a packet of mini cheddars for sustenance but boy was it worth it. It was certainly a brave experiment having four sets, and a play, over an afternoon and evening, and it was great to see that bravery so richly rewarded.

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