|Gig Review 6 - Hawkestra at Brixton, 21st October 2000
This review was written by Paul Eaton-Jones who has kindly given his permission for it to appear here.
Appearing at the
from above, a particularly
piratical Lemmy; Huw;
Simon House; Dave
Where and when I first heard about the reunion gig I can't really remember. It was probably in one of
Brian Tawn's newsletters around the middle of September. All I knew was that I had to go - this was an
absolute must see event. Ten days to go and the tickets arrive thanks to my girlfriend Linda, the rail tickets
thanks to my buddy Karl and we're all set. I've had to do nothing other than worry.
The week prior to the concert saw my anticipation wound up almost to breaking point. At last here was a
chance to see former members reunited after a gap of nearly 29 years, and to hear people I'd never seen
playing. My first gig was 28th January 1974 although I'd been aware of the band for about three years
before this and had bought the albums. To be frank, I actually found tears in my eyes the day before when
I thought of the prospect of seeing Dave playing beside Nik, Tom, Terry ,Huw Del, DikMik and Lemmy
after such a long time. Ah, the thought of certain sounds and the prospect of perhaps seeing an early
lightshow were quite overpowering.
We entered the hall at about 21:30 and immediately went into the auditorium just as the support act was
departing. ( we'd heard earlier that Heads had cancelled and no one knew who had taken their place).
Leaving the stage were, I think, a group of small girls with pompons and a woman who I thought I
recognised but couldn't place.
Shrugging our shoulders we went to see if we could find a merchandise stall. Part of the joy of a
Hawkwind show is buying t-shirts, picking up leaflets, chatting to fellow fans and catching a few, or even
many words with the estimable Trevor Hughes.
We made our way upstairs and were confronted by a struggling mass of humanity all trying to buy 'stuff',
and boy was there 'stuff'! The wonderful Weird Tapes on CD., Spacebrock, Paradogs and Hawkwind
Family Tree CD's. Which of the varied t-shirts should I get? Videos! So many to choose from. I'm
already enjoying myself immensely and I haven't heard any music yet.
The crowd we're mingling with is a pretty 'standard' Hawkwind crowd. For the past fifteen years I've
found us to be a mixture of almost every youth and 'adult' group: freaks, metal-heads, the denim brigade,
hippies, dreadlocked rastas, new-age travellers, folk from the E/rave/dance fraternity, the guys who sport
the Frank Zappa moustache, long goatee and narrow base-ball cap pulled low on the head (I don't know the
name of their sub-group) and the fairly straight looking people e.g. yours truly, who love the band, the
music and their attitude. In the early days I found most of the audiences to consist of the hippy-types or
the denim/heavy rockers, the gradual change occuring around 1985-87 after the Battle Of The Beanfield.
By 22:25 I've spent a fortune and lost Karl so I go back into the main room and take up position to the left
of the mixing desk. (is that the fabled Liquid Len adjusting the video camera and checking dials?). People
are by now moving into the hall in larger and larger numbers as show time approaches and when Mr. Dibs
comes on stage and starts photographing the audience and Richard Chadwick checks his kit the sense of
anticipation is ratcheted up several degrees.
It's 22:50 and the lights go out, the music from the p.a. stops, tension mounts. As usual my mouth goes
dry, adrenaline floods my system and I can once again feel tears coming on. Then on stage we see Dave,
the venerable Baron Brock himself, as he takes a last minute look at his banks of equipment checking to see
everything is OK, as would any experienced commander. Richard is behind his drums, Alan bounces on-
stage like a hyperactive pixie, Ron comes to the mic. to say hello, Simon House takes station on Dave's
right, Tim Blake on Dave's left on the front of the stage, Harvey pops up from behind a huge array of
synths and keyboards on the extreme left and Martin Griffin is at back left playing various percussion.
The familiar Eastern intro. to Hassan I Sahba starts to well up and we're off and running. Lead vocals are
shared between Alan and Ron with Dave coming in on the "it is written" part. I was a bit surprised they
used this to open the show as I feel it better suited to rounding things off. The sound is a bit muddy and
unbalanced but that is sorted out after about twenty minutes. We get the traditional synth/keyboard
burbling between songs before the bass guitar picks out the intro. to Assault and Battery before the rest of
the group come in with the main theme. This is done at the original pace with all the original words and
phrasing and is much the better for it. The final chords die away and we're quickly into the song that
logically follows on in most Hawkfan's minds, the soaring melodies of The Golden Void. Again this is
played at the speed we first heard way back in 1975. Dave and Alan take lead vocals and the instrumental
section is, if I can recall correctly, shared between guitar and violin with all the additional electronic swirls,
fills and - well, you all know the score. A really uplifting 10-12 minutes. Personally I'd have picked this as
the opening number.
As The Golden Void fades away and synth. noise sweeps around the room we await the next tune. Now
Dave steps out from behind his keyboards swinging his guitar and whipping the lead from under his feet as
he crashes out the opening chords to Arrival In Utopia. He and Alan give a good vocal rendition. In place
of the echoplex/phased middle-section, Ron recites Utopia before the vocals return. What a fabulous piece
of music this is. Then I caught sight of Danny Thompson on a raised part of the stage - rear left playing
23:25. Now the stage is darkened and there is movement on the right. To the left Harvey, all voluminous
grey hair and swirling cloak, pops up from behind his synths and gives us a series of keyboard/synth tunes
that unfortunately I fail to recognise before reciting Freefall in a desperate, frightened, rising and soaring
manner. As this ends to much applause Ron walks to the edge of the stage and we are treated to another
recitation. Calvert's mighty and prophetic Wage War is heard for the first time in probably 26 years. Ron
gives a fine rendition though not as threateningly or as passionately as Bob does/did on Bring Me The Head
Of Yuri Gagarin. While all this is happening there is a lot of movement in the shadows - people coming and
going. When the lights go up a new line-up of Dave, Danny Thompson, Alan, Ron, Huw and Steve
Swindells burst forth with Shot Down In The Night. This old favourite really rocks and people are now
fully into the feel of the event and we join in the chorus. Huws' lead breaks are as incisive and clear as they
were on Live '79 and Steve's vocals, though having a different texture than Dave's, suit the song It's his
composition after all and the overall feel is that the vocals are Fresh Blood and the instrumental part is Live
'79: very good indeed. Next up we get a highlight from Live Chronicles and one of my favourites. Huw
takes lead vocals for Moonglum and with a passing nod to the 'old days' he gets the words out of order.
(Why is it a favourite of mine? Well, I love the Elric novels and I had a cat called Myshella!) Then, oh my
friends, what is this that strides onto the stage as if it every right to be there ? A creature of such
strangeness, a creature that is yellow and red, has rounded spikes all along its' back and whose head looks
like two rubber gloves pulled over a football. A creature that looks like the unholy union between Mr.
Punch and some Jurassic dinosaur. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Nik Turner in a suit that is WAY
beyond the famous Frog suit of 1974/75. He steps up to the mic. and delivers 'Warriors At The Edge Of
00:05. For the next 'set' the band comprises Dave, Nik, Alan, Steve, Ron, Martin, Harvey and Richard.
Dave, Alan and Nik share lead vocals for 'Angels Of Death' which is quickly followed by a synth/drums
instrumental along with dancers. Half way through Dave treats us to 'The First Landing On Medusa' which
is initially drowned by the music but his words eventually become clear. It's the first time I've ever heard
this live and wish it could be included in future concerts.
00:15. Now comes one of the most sublime moments of the evening, maybe of the entire Hawkwind
history in my concert going experience. A long, slow synth/generator intro gives way to the guitar/bass riff
of 'Spirit Of The Age', the Live '79/15-8-92 video version, with Ron and Steve sharing lead vocals. Part of
the way through the first verse I became aware that people around me were joining in with the "Spirit Of
The Age" responses. I then realised that the WHOLE of the crowd were singing along - 4000 of us joined
together as one. I was so overcome with emotion that I found tears streaming down my face. Taking a
quick look around I saw a number of other fans in a similar state. Hawkwind has always elicited this
response in me and I feel no embarrassment in sharing this with anyone reading this. In fact I can feel
tears pricking in my eyes as I'm typing this a month later. Then the rest of the band join in, lights flash, the
sound temporarily drowns the crowd's singing before we once again take up lead vocals. I could feel the
zeal, enthusiasm and sheer love welling up from the crowd and being absorbed by the players on stage.
This was a moment of sheer bliss. A sense of peaceful contentment settled on me. The feelings evoked in
me were those I'd experienced when I first saw them; joy, wonderment, love, even. The thrill was like
standing under a summer night sky looking southwards and seeing the galaxy laid out before you. (Those
amongst you who like me are astronomers will understand exactly what I'm getting at here.) It would be
fabulous beyond words if we got an uncut video and CD of the whole event but if it is edited, I implore
Dave or whoever compiles them to leave this part in untouched. It was a truly moving, priceless moment
that must be preserved. I never wanted this to end. The song eventually finished to prolonged and ecstatic
applause. Then we were quickly into Psi Power with Dave now joining in and, I think at this point, three
dancers in school-girl uniforms which they shed in a sub- Britney routine. Hmmm.
To finish this part of the show we had 'Motorway City' with the traditional, long electronic intro. with
swirling arpeggios. Dave and Ron shared lead vocals on this with Dave dropping his voice by about half an
octave to amazing affect and Huw played us a wonderful lead break that was somewhat reminiscent of the
Live '79 version. This was a superb version of a song that regularly tops Hawkfan polls and I could see
why on this showing.
The next 'band' was Dave, Nik, Huw, Terry Ollis and Thomas Crimble together for the first time since
1971 (possibly Del and Dikmik played but were hidden somewhere in the wings). They played only a short
set comprising 'Hurry On Sundown' and a bit of ' You Know You're Only Dreaming'. Tom started off a
little hesitantly but responded to the crowd's positive reaction and soon looked more relaxed. I'd have liked
more from this line-up - 'We Do It' would have gone down a treat.
Musicians wandered on and off and then we were left with Tim, Dave, Richard and Alan for a long,
meandering version of 'Lighthouse' in what was a quieter interlude. That finished, Tim left, Steve came on
with more dancers and we're into 'The Right To Decide' with Dave, Steve and Alan sharing vocals. This is
another straight-ahead rocker like 'Shot Down..' and 'Psi Power' and is one the few pieces I like from the
early '90's. Then Richard's off and Danny's on and it's 'Sputnik Stan'. This has never been a favourite of
mine but seemed to be a bit better than in previous years and was well received by the crowd. I'm not sure
why I don't like it but it's one of perhaps only half a dozen of Hawkwind songs I can't get along with.
While everyone has their favourite line-up, album, and song I think it is fair to say without denigrating
members past, present or future that the line-up most people consider to be HAWKWIND is The
Doremi/Space Ritual one. And this is what we had next minus Bob, Stacia, Rene and Tony Crerar but plus
Huw and Terry and Del and DikMik somewhere off to the left in the wings. Ron came to the mic. and he
and Dave muttered the famous intro to the Ritual - 'Earth Calling'. A general tuning up, free -form scrum
with a rising susurration from the massed banks of speakers resolved itself into a thundering rendition of
'You Shouldn't Do That' with Nik, Lemmy and Dave chanting fit to bust. What we had for the next hour or
more was everybody being the people they had been 25+ years ago. Nik on the left playing sax and flute
and singing with none of the flamboyance associated with his solo and later appearances with the band and
Lemmy was very restrained holding his bass parallel to the floor and not at 70 degrees and being Lemmy of
Motorhead. As Y.S.D.T faded Terry left to be replaced by Richard, Alan came on to take his place next to
Lemmy and looked rather overawed yet pleased to playing alongside his hero and who can blame him?
'Psychedelic Warlords' came and went and as Nik intoned 'Ten Seconds Of Forever', Huw departed. I
think everybody expected 'Brainstorm' to follow but instead we got 'Space Is Deep' with Dave and Lemmy
reprising their Ritual partnership. Imagine the chorus part sung by Dave in the manner of the Strange Trips
& Pipe Dreams version and the verses as Space Ritual and you'll have an idea how this awesome piece
sounded. This song was another highlight with the musical tension building at the end of the vocal part to
be resolved in a wonderfully uplifting instrumental section. As this slowly wound down we were treated to
a perfect bass/guitar passage with Lemmy playing a very restrained and controlled melody on the high
strings. I noticed that Alan had quietly slipped off between the stacks of speakers almost so as to allow the
people who had originally brought us this music to have the stage to themselves once again. He appeared to
watch the proceedings with something close to reverence, as, I might add, we all did. The song faded
away almost imperceptibly and was greeted with ecstatic applause.
While Nik entertained us with a sax solo musicians started to take up various positions on stage as if
gathering for a grand finale. We now had Dave, Nik, Lemmy, Del, DikMik, Simon, Harvey, Tim, Martin,
Richard, Ron, Jerry, Alan, Steve and Keith on stage ready to give us the right royal audio-visual thrashing
we deserved. We were not to be disappointed. Boy, how we were not disappointed! Niks' 'saxual' (sic)
meanderings petered out and following the usual nods and shakes of heads and last desperate words across
the stage the band launched themselves into a wonderful version of 'Brainstorm' with Nik and Lemmy
sharing lead vocals ably backed by Jerry and Huw. Over the past few years this awe-inspiring piece has
been reworked and sanitised until most of the energy, vitality and sheer joie de vivre has been removed
leaving just a pale imitation. If you don't believe me contrast and compare the examples on Doremi, Space
Ritual and In Concert with any version from the '90's. Sure let's have re-worked oldies but they should be
improvements. Here WAS an improvement. This kicked our collective ass. 'Brainstorm' came to an end
and there came an ominous rumbling from the speakers overlaid by a now raising scream and Nik began
intoning what else but 'In the case of Sonic Attack....' to much applause. This is another track that has
sometimes been treated less than seriously over the years. I can recall Dave cracking up with laughter in
1988 when the B.B.C. broadcast the Hammersmith concert but this time it was delivered in all
'seriousness'. A sort of silence fell only to be replaced by a far off, rapidly approaching wailing, a rushing,
whooshing that I'm sure we all recognised as the intro to 'Master Of The Universe'. This had all the awe
and majesty of the early/mid '70's version. A true powerhouse of a song. Nik and Dave gave a wonderful
vocal performance and to everyone's surprise, amazement even, they were joined half way through the first
verse by Samantha Fox ( and why not?) They finally finished and Sam bounced off waving to a cheering
More movement, readjustment and repositioning and then there were eleven players ready to go. Dave,
Lemmy, Nik, Danny, Alan, Simon, Richard, Steve, Huw, Martin and Ron. Ready to go and indeed 'Born
To Go'. Wow, oh wow. What a treat. I'd only ever heard this played live once before, during The Earth
Ritual Preview in 1984. This has to be one of my ALL time favourites - A Desert Island Discs certainty. It
always brings to mind a herd of buffalo stampeding down an oaken stair-case. Truly awesome. I just wish
that Dave had played the lead melody this time. The '72 version with its bell-like sonorous quality always
sends shivers up and down my spine. But I suppose the Year 2000 calls for new or different interpretations
and it would be churlish in the extreme to complain. Anyway I clapped and cheered like a ten year old girl
at a Back Street Boys concert as the piece finished.
Hardly pausing for breath the band threw themselves into 'Orgone Accumulator' with Nik and Ron again
taking lead vocals. Once more Lemmy reprised his '72 version with the bass line melody picked out with
such marvellous precision, clarity and dexterity. What a player he is.
As with most of the material 'Orgone' and 'Born To Go' were played at pretty much the original pace and I
think came across better because they had a more measured feel about them. Recent incarnations often
appear hurried and you get the feeling the band want this older stuff over and done with and out of the
way. With the end of Orgone the lights down and the band trooped offstage to rapturous applause. Two
minutes of foot stamping and handclapping brought them back again, as everyone knew it would. Also
returning were Harvey, Jerry and Sam.
02:20. "What do you want us to play?". This from Nik and Dave. Four thousand voices replied, â€œSilver
Machine" I truly wish we could have called for 'Adjust Me', 'PXR5' or 'Infinity' but that would have spoiled
the party. So it was 'Silver Machine' we got. We also got five vocalists: Lemmy, obviously, Nik, Dave,
Ron and Sam along with all of the audience. And an absolutely thundering version too. A true audio/visual
assault; screaming synths/ generators, avalanche bass and rhythm guitars, lights of every colour of the
spectrum and some that I suspect were of an alien rainbow and of course the Hawkwind trademark
multihued strobes including ultra violet.
With our yells for more ringing through the hall the players again left the stage with the quick goodbye that
we all knew meant they'd be back to give us space cadets what we wanted. Sure enough and for a final
time instruments were again plugged in and made ready. We were treated to another Calvert number -
'Ejection' - with what seemed to be all 17 band members taking on the rÃ´le of lead vocalist. Against all
expectations it worked. Once more we were subjected to an all out sonic and visual attack. The whole
building was shaken to its' foundations once again. The song seemed to go on and on with nobody
prepared to bring it to an end. But eventually the band caught sight of the 'Brock nod' and everything was
brought to a thundering climax. The lights went out then came up again while the crowd cheered to the
rafters. Thank yous were called from the stage and Nik came forwards to introduce all the players and the
former members in attendance by name. The biggest hurrahs were for Huw, Del and DikMik though no
one was greeted with anything less than rapturous applause. Then it was all over. Band members turned
off amps, unplugged their leads had a few words with each other, Sam Fox wriggled her hips at Dave
whose response caused her great amusement and earned him a whack across the back of his head. The
house lights came on full and we all wandered away in search of refreshment, lavatories or just to sit and
wonder at the 3 hours 45 mins we had experienced. I think my initial reaction on turning to a woman stood
next to me was simply "wow".
So, as the 20th century draws to a close where does Hawkwind stand? The band has dominated the
underground/ counterculture of Britain for the last thirty years unchallenged. Their influence can be found
in the dance/rave culture, in music as diverse as the Sex Pistols/Clash/Buzzcocks and Ozric Tentacles/Krel
etc. A new century is just around the corner and I feel that although there won't be a 'new' Hawkwind
there will be new areas for Dave and his crew to explore and new bands to be influenced. Hawkwind are
often regarded as "Britains answer to the Grateful Dead". I've never gone along with that idea. They seem
to have been just another San Franscico psychedelic acid band. Massively popular I grant you, but.. The
Dead didn't make a "difference", culturally, musically or otherwise. That's just a personal view. Hawkwind
have and in that respect are more to be considered Britain's answer to The Mothers Of Invention, even
down to Dave being like Frank Zappa in that he has very strict and almost obsessive views and ideas as to
the band's direction and ways it should develop. But such comparisons are pointless, odious even. I know
we are all biased towards Hawkwind but I feel we can truly call them unique. Yes, HAWKWIND made a
Another thirty years? Probably not, though it's pleasant to look forward to as many as possible. We'll still
be here and we know that is what they want. Notable absentees? It would have been great to have seen
Mike Moorcock, Stacia, Adrian Shaw and Andy 'FM On The Road' Dunkley. So too, Dave Anderson, John
Harrison and Captain Rizz. But I suppose the most glaring absentee was Hawkwinds' powerhouse from the
1970's, Simon King. Sorely missed were Robert and Barney but we all knew that their shades were
standing in the shadows looking on in appreciation of the sounds and swirling colours.
And so at 06:00 the people all filed out into the crisp London air to wend their joyful way home.......no more
people....no more homes.
Here's a list of the people who appeared:
Dave Brock, Nik Turner, Huw Lloyd-Langton, Lemmy, Terry Ollis, Del Dettmar, DikMik, Mick Slattery,
Allan Powell, Tim Blake, Thomas Crimble, Alan Davey, Harvey Bainbridge, Ron Tree, Danny Thompson,
Jerry Richards, Richard Chadwick, Martin Griffin, Steve Swindells, Samantha Fox, Keith Kniverton.
...and those who actually played:
Dave, Nik, Huw, Lemmy, Terry, Tim, Thomas, Alan, Harvey, Ron, Danny, Jerry, Richard, Martin, Steve,
Sam, Keith and most of us think, indeed hope, surely, Del and DikMik.
Also if some readers are interested here's a set list complete as I can make it with each 'band'
Dave, Alan, Richard, Simon, Ron, Martin, Harvey and Tim - Assassins Of Allah, Assault And Battery,
The Golden Void, Arrival In Utopia ( with Utopia in middle section).
Harvey - Synthesiser/Keyboard improvisation, Freefall.
Harvey and Ron (and maybe Del) - Wage War.
Dave, Huw, Alan, Danny, Harvey, Steve, Ron, Martin - Shot Down In The Night
Huw, Alan, Harvey, Danny, Tim, Martin and Dave (who seems to come and go!) - Rocky Paths,
Nik, Dave, Alan, Martin, Steve, Danny and Tim - Warriors At the Edge Of Tme, Angels Of Death, First
Landing On Medusa (during which all but Dave leave the stage and few mime artists perform.)
Dave, Ron, Richard, Tim, Jerry and Steve - Spirit Of The Age, Psi Power, Motorway City.
Dave, Huw, Nik, Thomas, Terry (and possibly Del and DikMik who were rear stage left) - Hurry On
Sundown, You Know You're Only Dreaming.
Tim, Alan and Richard - Lighthouse.
Dave, Alan, Richard, Steve and Jerry plus 4 dancers - The Right To Decide.
Dave, Alan, Danny, Steve and Jerry - Sputnik Stan.
Dave, Lemmy, Nik, Huw, Terry, Ron, Alan, Del and DikMik - Earth Calling, You Shouldn't Do That
Psychedelic Warlords (during which Richard replaces Terry)
Dave, Nik, Lemmy, Richard, Tim, Ron, Del, DikMik, Martin, Jerry, Steve and Alan (who leaves as
Space Is Deep starts up) - Ten Seconds Of Forever and Space Is Deep.
Dave, Nik, Lemmy, Simon, Harvey, Del, DikMik, Tim, Jerry, Huw and Samantha - Sax solo,
Brainstorm, Sonic Attack and Master Of The Universe.
Dave, Nik, Lemmy, Alan, Simon, Richard, Ron, Steve, Huw, Martin, Keith, Del and DikMik - Born To
Go and Orgone Accumulator.
Dave, Nik, Lemmy, Alan, Simon, Richard, Ron, Steve, Huw, Martin, Keith, Del, DikMik, Jerry, Harvey
and Samantha - Silver Machine and Ejection.