|HawkFest 2003 - Part 1|
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|Arthur and Instant Flight had apparently never played together before, but it was an excellent set. A number of people I talked to later did not enjoy it, as the music (poppy 60’s psychedelia) was not their cup of tea. Instant Flight consisted of 3 blokes on drums, bass and guitar, with a young woman playing Hammond keyboards. They were most effective when they powered down into slow time, with the drums and bass holding down a fixed pattern, and the keyboards and guitar wove contrasting motifs over the top of this. When the whole band acted as a rhythm unit, everyone playing the same riff in unison, they were much less effective. Arthur, of course, was his usual flamboyant self, and showed off his 5-octave vocal range to brilliant effect.
On Saturday morning, I was up early to see just how viable the bathrooms were, and met Sam Fitzpatrick (aka HawkMum) walking her dog. She said “I thought you’d be
|older” and it was too early in the day for me to work out if this was a compliment or not. Anyway, the showers worked brilliantly, how nice to be clean! I bumped into Rich Warren in the showers and he told me where he and Arin were camped, so I went over in that direction and said hello to her. I also met Merrick|
|a kind of psychic enclosure, featuring Merrick & Julie’s ‘Sculptures In The Air’ tent, with an entire wall of lavishly illustrated Hawkwind lyrics among other things. This was quite the most psychedelic exhibit in the entire fest.
And then breakfast, consisting of bacon, sausages, eggs, tomatoes, baked beans and bread, prepared and eaten without plates. The trick is to use the bread as a plate, and I even fed a friend, thereby keeping a promise that I’d made at last year’s HawkFest :-)
|Above and Left: the Chill Out tent, 2003, featuring Merrick & Julie French's Scupltures In The Air, and wall hangings
Below and Below Right: two of the illustrated Hawkwind lyrics - there were maybe 30 or so of these in total...
|The weather was perfect, blue skies and the day was not yet too hot, so we wandered around the site and met some more people, including Alan & Andrea, Mick Crook, Ian & Stewart Mackie, and Michael Blackman of Alien Dream, who was giving out free preview CD’s of his set. Nick Lee appeared and pitched his tent next to mine, which was great, except that I accused him of being Alan Linsley! Something seemed to be going on in the main tent, although it was too early for any bands to be playing. We wandered in (I introduced myself to Neil and Marie of Chaos Illumination, who are lovely people and provided a fabulous lightshow all weekend) and were delighted to find that Hawkwind were soundchecking. They did fragmentary run-throughs of a few numbers which included Coded Languages, Green Finned Demon and Utopia.|
|Hawkwind doing their soundcheck on Saturday morning, inside the tent.|
|We hung around there for a while and Ben wanted to stay, so Ali, myself, Stephe and Tracey were the only ones to head offsite. We fancied going to the seaside, but not Blackpool, so we went to Fleetwood instead. This is a small place right at the estuary of the River Wyre, a few miles north of Blackpool. We ate ice creams and cockles, swam in the estuary (what a riptide!) and had a|
|pint…finally loading up with more food and some paper plates & cups before going back to the festival site late in the afternoon. Once again we decided to forgo the vegetarian catering and eat at the pub, so we missed a few bands, including (to my annoyance) Litmus, who I’d really wanted to see…argh!|
|Another wander around the site confirmed that more people had arrived on the Saturday, and my rough estimate of numbers in attendance was 800 (most of whom looked like the usual nonconformist Hawkwind crowd, i.e. freaks) - we were told this was the number required for Hawkwind to break even on the festival as a whole. I fervently hope they did, and ideally made a profit, as we all want these festivals to go on happening every year! Judging by the preponderance of Northern accents, many or most of the fans were from that part of the country, plus there were quite a few more Scots in evidence than the year before. (Lancashire is not exactly the ends of the earth, but it would be interesting to see if a midlands location for 2004 would reap a higher attendance, being central to everyone and in the best part of the UK motorway network to boot. And we might be able to get there without having to drive through Birmingham listening to Judas Priest!)|
|Above: Bands camping area. Below: Vegetarian (left) and Vegan (right) cafes|
|and Julie for the first time, which was great as I've taken their names in vain many times before on this site. I will feel a little easier about dropping their names from now on… They and Arin & Rich were encamped in|
|Having spent the night before in Southend on Sea, I had to first of all drive into London and round the North Circular to Ealing, where Ali lives…well, *he* was ready on time but we had to wait another hour and a half for Ben to appear, lugging lilos and sleeping bags across London on foot. So we didn’t get going until nearly midday. Initially this was no problem as the M40 opened up before us and we got to Birmingham in good time. After that, though the M6 was very slow, for no apparent reason other than weight of traffic. The CD player fed us a steady diet of Quark Strangeness & Charm, Choose Your Masques, Judas Priest (this when we were going through Birmingham, of course) and Ozric Tentacles…
Finally we came to the outskirts of Preston and went into town in search of a supermarket. Iceland was the best we could do, which was fine as far as food and drink was concerned, but left us short of paper plates, washing up liquid and a few other essentials. The most important item, remembering last year’s HawkFest, was meat, and we made sure we had enough bacon and sausages to see us through whatever vegetarian atrocities were about to be perpetrated upon us at the festival. We reached the site at 7.30pm and set up our tents before going in search of food. I was cheered to find that our closest neighbours were Mike and Lucy, and Jill; so the Hawkwind Codex authors and current custodian were all in one place. We also ran into some old and new friends, including Alan Linsley, Alan Taylor, Peter Wibrew, Keith Henderson, Dave Law (who’d been there since 3.30pm, despite setting out from Southend after me!), Rik and Val and Stephe Lindas. We heard, but did not see, Big Amongst Sheep playing on the main stage; later, those who’d seen them reported that they had played an excellent set. There was also something more rave-orientated going on in the Barn Stage.
First impressions were that this was far more organised and large-scale than last year. The campsite consisted of 2 or 3 large fields, and initial estimates of the numbers were that 700 or so people were already there – and as with last year, more could be expected to arrive on the Saturday. A quick tour of the site revealed that the facilities were much better, with proper toilets and showers, more stuff for the kids, a tattoo artist, two stages and the polymorphic dance tent bedecked with fluorescent wall hangings. But the food situation looked about the same – once again our friends the Corner Shop were there, selling food, drink and sundries from their caravan. There was also a vegetarian café (not the same as last year’s) and worse yet, a Vegan café….uh, no meat! We were hungry but no-one could face lentils after our arduous journey (especially me, as I had just driven for 8 hours straight), so we immediately went out again to the nearest pub and ate there. This meant it was getting dark by the time we got back onsite and we couldn’t look round further or do much except head into the Tent Stage to see who was playing. Arthur Brown and Instant Flight, the night’s headliners, were the first band we saw. There were about 400 people in the tent to see this, and I remember looking around and thinking that it would probably hold no more than 500 people in total, which would be interesting when Hawkwind played…