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 youâ
€™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
Camp Starfarer
a kind of psychic enclosure, featuring Merrick & Julieâ
€™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
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 seeâ
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
HawkFest 2003 - Part 1      HawkFest 2003 - Part 2      HawkFest 2003 - Part 3
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 whoâ
€™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…