2 May 2014

Captain Lockheed's Mountain Grill and other nice hawky things

Somehow I had not managed to see The Psychedelic Warlords on their previous tour but things fell nicely in to place for this one.

They were playing in The Underworld in Camden which I had fond memories of having seen the reformed Sensational Alex Harvey Band there in 2004.

On this tour, The Psychedelic Warlords were playing two unusual albums, Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters (a Bob Calvert solo album with many guest stars) and Hall of the Mountain Grill, hence the title Captain Lockheed's Mountain Grill.

That was always going to be enough to get me there but things got even better when I learned that Hoaxwind would be supporting them. That meant that I made sure that I was there by 7pm to give me enough time to settle down (i.e. buy a pint) before Hoaxwind came on at 7:15.

I have seen Hoxwind many times so I knew what to expect, though they had to modify their set-list a little to drop songs that The Psychedelic Warlords were going to do.

Being the support band forced Hoaxwind to settle for the main band's set-up and the mix was not kind to them, I found the sound too loud (admittedly I started by standing right at the front) and Eugene's sax was so low it was almost inaudible even though I was standing next to it.I tried wandering around to see if the sound got any better but there was no noticeable difference so I returned to the front.

Luckily Hoaxwind know what they are doing and despite my reservations about the sound system they delivered a good set that was well received by the die-hard Hawkwind fans who had mostly come for the main act.

After a little break (and another beer) The Psychedelic Warlords hit the stage. They were headed by ex-Hawk Alan Davey on bass with (going clockwise), Craig High on vocals and other stuff, Simon Wilkins on lead guitar, Zoie on keyboards and Billy Fleming on drums.

It took quite a while to get used to Craig as he reminded me so much of Max Maxwell of the reformed Sensational Alex Harvey Band. They shared stage craft, vocal and sartorial styles.

I had wondered how they would do Captain Lockheed as it contains a lot of spoken word. The compromise they reached was to drop the longer spoken tracks (e.g. Ground Crew and Interview) and to use tapes where spoken scenes were needed to put songs in context (e.g. Aircraft Salesman, Two Test Pilots and I Resign). It worked well.

I had forgotten how many solid rock songs are on the album (e.g. Aerospaceage Inferno, Widow Maker, The Right Stuff and Ejection) alongside the quirky ones (e.g. The Gremlin, Hero with a Wing and the closing song Catch a Falling Starfighter) and they also worked well performed live.

Hall of the Mountain Grill was a more obvious album to cover and I've heard songs like Psychedelic Warlords and D-Rider covered by other bands, notably Space Ritual.

The sound was a lot better for the headliners and I got heavily in to the music. Perhaps the beer helped but I was soon dancing enthusiastically with my characteristic lack of style. I was far from alone in dancing or lacking style and the floor was bouncing with happiness.

And that is what the evening was all about, lots of people having lots of fun with a good band playing great music.

I will most definitely go to see The Psychedelic Warlords again if I can and I am pretty sure that I'll end up dancing again too. You have been warned.


  1. Thank you very much for the review. I'm extremely flattered. I'm more used to performing in acts with their own material so this and the tail end of the last Warlords tour are the first time in 30 years of playing live that I've paid homage to another band's material in such an absolute way. I am, however, friends with Nik Turner and play with him weekly and The Psychedelic Warlords are at present writing a debut LP in collaboration with Michael Moorcock so I'll soon be back playing original material. Onwards upwards and outwards! Craig High xx

  2. Hoaxwind were excellent, many thanks to everyone.

  3. I was at Secondary School with Tony and Phil out of Hoaxwind and the three of us went to a lot of our earliest gigs together. To all be on the same bill at ages 49 and 50 without any aforethought, long term planning and without having had very much to do with each other in adult life is clear proof that synchronicity and the zeitgeist are more than mere hypotheses. Tony and I were in our first ever gigging band together and Phil was in a band on the same bill at our first ever proper gig at The Swan in Kingston, London SW15. 20 years later and now this. There is a poetry to such things. Craig High xx

  4. ps and both our kids are Welsh speakers! More synchronicity. Thanks to Matthew Rees for this write up. Good journalism is hard to find. Cxx


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