|Benefit for the Homeless: Blackheath 1997
|Many thanks to Marie Jenkinson of Chaos Illumination, who gave permission for this piece to appear
here. It was previously published in Trevor Hughes' 'Ship Of Dreams' booklet which was sold as part of the
official merchandising on the 1997 UK tour. (See A Tale Of Two Programmes for more detail.)
Previously, with Hawkwind gigs you had a
pretty good idea of what to expect - an excellent
light show, a blend of ambient and hard-core
space rock, with a few dancers, fire-breathers
etc. thrown in for good measure. However, this
one was different. With the shock
announcement that Alan Davey, a Hawkwind
veteran since the Chronicles Of The Black
Sword days, had left the band, we ventured
down to Blackheath with some trepidation.
This gig marked the end of a charity tour for the
homeless by Huw Lloyd Langton. With Huw
performing an acoustic set, Captain Rizz opening
the charity performance and Hawkwind ending
the gig, it promised to be an interesting evening.
The gig got off to a good start with Captain Rizz
having a new line up as well. Their performance
was good, and the sound definitely more rock-
based than reggae -an improvement in my mind-
the only problem being that the sound was
deafening - even at the back of the hall.
The acoustic set by Huw was quieter.
Accompanied only by a flutist and a bongo / bass
player, he performed some great Hawkwind
classics from the Chronicles and Sonic Attack
era such as Moonglum, Rocky Paths, Dreaming Cities, Arioch and some of his recent solo stuff such as
Shine The Light and Outside The Law - all of which went down well with the crowd. Having seen a similar
[but] more rock-orientated set by Huw at Bradford a few weeks previous, I was surprised as to how well
his stuff adapted to the acoustic style.
Finally, the revamped Hawkwind came on stage and what a surprise!!! Of course, with Ron Tree now on
bass, it made his on stage Calvertesque style difficult to perform, severely cutting the stage action.
Combined with no light show, there was very little to watch on stage except for the dancers and fire
breathers that periodically danced.
Surprisingly, most of the Alien stuff had been dropped retaining only Love In Space and Blue Skin from the
last tour (I think). The opening had completely changed to Assault and battery and was (for me anyway)
completely mind-blowing - all it needed was to be followed by The Golden Void - and it was!!! With
Hawkwind classics like Ejection, Aerospaceage Inferno, Assassins, Steppenwolf and Sonic Attack being
performed, the crowd were going frantic.
There were some surprises, however. Hawkwind included some new material in their set, one of which
was called Reptoid. This was a real turn up. Unlike the more ambient stuff, this really showed off Richardâ
€™s drumming skills, sounding more like something from the Turner punk-influenced years than from the
spacey Hawkwind of recent years. I thought it was great (I love punk anyway) and the promised new
album looks like it will be a completely different style and sound from what we are used to.
[The actual set list was: Intro; Assault & Battery; Golden Void; Blue Skin; Steppenwolf; Reptoid Vision;
Hassan-i-Sahba; Space Is Their; Hassan-i-Sahba; Wastelands; Alchemy; Love In Space; Aerospaceage
Inferno; Sonic Attac; Wheels; Brainstorm; Camera That Could Lie; Brainstorm; Ejection; Needle Gun]
Of course, the best part had to be the encore. With Huw joining them on stage for the first time in ages,
this was what we had all traveled miles to see. Blasting out a rendition of Needle Gun, this was what the
crowd wanted. Ron Tree did well on bass - it's a hard job stepping into Alan Davey's shoes - his bass set-
up was far more basic than Alan's. Perhaps the real weakness now that Alan has left is with the harmonies
on certain tracks. Love In Space and Assassins just did not sound the same.
So - for the future - it looks like Hawkwind have reverted back to a more guitar-based sound, certainly a
heavier sound than the Business Trip stuff. The new album promises to be yet another change in sound for
Hawkwind judging by Reptoid. I'm glad I was there.
|I was at the Blackheath gig too, and for what it's worth I've written something about it on the More Gig