6 December 2013

Hawkwind at The Brook (2013)

Somehow it was four years since I last saw Hawkwind at The Book in Southampton, How did that happen?

I missed Hawkwind in London earlier in the year (that is a story I do not want to tell as the memory hurts too much) so I was delighted when The Brook gig popped up unexpectedly. Southampton is a little way away but it is mostly motorway and I know the road well so it is an easy drive of just over an hour to get there.

The timing worked well and I arrived just on 8pm which was when the doors were due to open. I just wanted to see the band and was happy not to queue to get a seat upstairs (not that I would want one of those anyway).

There was a minor hitch over photography but that was soon resolved and we were allowed to take pictures despite the prominent warnings.

Old habits die hard and I found myself right at the very front looking straight up at Tim Blake.

Tim opened the evening with a short solo set which ended with us all singing along to Spirit of the Age. And that was a fine was to start any evening.

What followed was another bravado performance from Hawkwind. This is as good as I have ever heard them. Seriously.

The Hawkwind line-up is a movable feast for both musical and personal reasons (including, sadly, death) and had settled down in recent years to Dave Brock (guitar), Tim Blake (keyboards), Richard Chadwick (drums), Mr Dibs (bass), Niall Hone (guitar) and Dead Fred (keyboards). Adding to this some exotic instruments like a theremin and electric cello, and the capabilities of a few Apple Macs produced a sound that was rich in its variety and still authentically Hawkwind.

The highlight of the set, and the theme of the tour, was a complete performance of Warrior on the Edge of Time, which is possibly my favourite Hawkwind album against stiff competition. I still remember clearly walking along Radipole Park Drive in Weymouth listening to Radio 1 on my tranny when John Peel played the tracks Assault and Battery and The Golden Void. They are still magic to me.

Other highlights for me, as they are when Space Ritual play them (they play them differently), were Steppenwolf and Assassins of Allah. It is a testament to Hawkwind's back catalogue and confidence that they could leave out things like Brainstorm.

The Brook had no space for dancers, they tried in the past and it did not work too well, but there were the usual spacey projections to complement the spacey sounds.

Hawkwind played non-stop for a couple of hours never missing a beat and never delivering a dull song. It was high-energy intoxicating and majestic. I loved every single minute of it.

I was so happy at the end of the evening that I bought a Hawkwind t-shirt. Just like I did last time.

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