|The Greasy Truckers Party 08/11/02
I asked a few people who were going to the Greasy Truckers Party at the Mean Fiddler on the above
date to write a review to appear here. This was a gig put on by Nik Turner, featuring Inner City Unit,
Tractor and SpaceRitual.net. Some fans stayed away because the occasion was announced as a
fundraiser for Nik's legal battle with Dave Brock, i.e. it had an anti-Hawkwind aspect.
What we have here is the views of 4 HawkFans, most of which are uncomplimentary to say the
least. I did not intend for this to be a hatchet job, so I would love to hear from anyone who
thoroughly enjoyed the evening! Email me here with your rebuttal of the scuttle-butt...
|My thanks to Ben, Alan, Rob and Dave, who reviewed the gig but not in that order...
I Beg To Differ!
Today I received an email from a lady called Melissa who did not agree with the opinions expressed
above. I am very pleased to be able to give the other side of the story. Melissa:
"I've just been reading people's reviews of the last Greasy Truckers Party - I'm disappointed people seem
to have it in for Nik and seem to like slagging him off while singing the praises of Darth Brock et al....
I've been into the band for over 20 years and frankly, while the Real Hawkwind (TM) went downhill in
their overall musicality and decent songwriting to the point I didn't go and see them throughout most of
the 90's, I'm amazed Nik has engendered such animosity. People seem to be repeating the poison the Real
Hawkwind (TM) have put on their site without even having heard Space Ritual.net - I'm amazed that any
Hawkwind 'fan' worth their salt isn't even intrigued by the possibility of seeing half of the original
members play...still, people are entitled to their opinions.
I find it hypocritical that these people slag off Space Ritual.net's overall sound when the reason I stopped
going to see the Real Hawkwind (TM) in the early 90's was because the noise coming from the stage had
become an undistinguished wall of sound for each song, which all seemed interchangeable, despite old
faves being trotted out and tromped through in a tired manner. I never thought that before then I'd get
out of seeing the band (28 times in 10 years) but then they became so boring. I checked 'em out again in
1999 as I'd heard Nik and Simon House were going to be there and in spite of a decent enough evening
out, the sound was terrible (both musically and audibly)...
The Hawkestra was excellent but I certainly don't rate Alan Davey or Danny Thompson as interesting or
talented musicians, and Bedouin have more of a pub rock / heavy metal disco sound than Space
Ritual.net ever have. Nik's crew might be unrehearsed at times (so it's OK to play badly 'cos you're
completely wrecked - hello Watchfield 76) but that's 'cos some of them have full-time jobs and so can't
get together as often as they'd probably like since half of them live in Wales and the other half in London.
The Inner City Unit set at the Greasy Truckers was different - purely 'cos Trev was playing silly buggers
with Nik and so Nik was forced to go out with 2 bass players and no guitarist, as Steve Pond got pissed
off with the situation and the venue from his experience there the year before. People don't seem to have
noticed both Dave Anderson and Nazar Alikhan were members of ICU in the 80's, so better than nothing
and I gather the drummer was Nik's man from the Allstars since neither Mick Stupp nor Dino were up for
it. Of course it would have been great to see the old 'original' band as were on in 2001, but at least they
tried to make the best of it - would people have been happy if the ICU set had just been cancelled?
Anyway, attached is a review my other half and I wrote for the Space Ritual.net website, which is sincere
if much more positive than most that I've read, I'd appreciate it if you'd post it alongside the others, as
Devil's Advocate if nothing else!"
Well said, that woman! I don't totally agree with everything she says, but nobody can deny her views are
very well expressed. And now here is Melissa & Colin's review of the Greasy Truckers;
Photos supplied by and copyright of Melissa Joseph
-many thanks Melissa!!!!
Ni(c)ks Calvert & Turner
These photographs were sent to me
by Melissa Joseph, and she retains
copyright over these images. If you
wish to use them please contact me
here so that I can pass on to her
your request. The pics have also
appeared, with somewhat vague
credit, on the SpaceRitual.net
Inner City Unit
Sounding remarkably like they did in the '80's, Inner City Unit had both Dave Anderson and Nazer Alikhan
on bass, due to a lack of usual guitarists. They charged through all the ICU classics like World of LSD,
Fungus Among Us, Watching the Grass Grow and Bones of Elvis with such verve that there were only a
few occasions when an expected guitar line was noticably missing. Perhaps this is why they didnâ€™t do
our personal favourites Two Worlds and Virgin Love. With Ola and Jim Hawkman on keyboards and
synths completing the sound, Nik's vocals were particularly clear and without any guitar he was given a
free rein to carry the melody lines along with his sax.
Although different from last year, when we had the privilege of seeing most of the original line-up,
especially for those of us who missed out first time round, it was great to see ICU rocking out as of old.
Tractor were on next and they played the tightest set yet, their melodic sound filling the space more than
usual, despite there being only two of them. With Jim Milne on guitar & vocals and Steve Clayton on
percussion, Tractor sound remarkably contemporary, considering their highly regarded heyday was the
early 70's. They were joined in the latter half by Eric Bell of Thin Lizzy fame, who played a blinding guitar
solo in Whisky in the Jar. Tractor has become more cohesive every time we've seen them supporting
Space Ritual and this venue showed them at their best.
As in the Space Ritual itself, the Hawkestra opened with Born to Go, the most authentic sounding and
spirited version since the '70's. Having taken off, they hardly paused to look down for the next 75
minutes. Throughout the set, Jim Hawkman added oscillator and synth swirls to rival Del & DikMik rolled
into one, filling the space with classic spacey noises. The differing guitar styles of Mick Slattery & Jerry
Richards added separate layers to the whole, our only quibble being that we didn't think either were loud
enough in the mix to complement the thundering multiple drums and bass.
Terry & Sam Ollis locked in with one another to drive Orgone Accumulator along with the energy to do
the song the most justice in decades. Next, Thomas Crimble led the band in a new song of his called Itâ
€™s Alright, reminiscent of the more acoustic offerings on the first few Hawkwind albums, perhaps more
akin to his Skin Alley heritage.
With Dave Anderson on hand to supply the classic bassline to Master of the Universe, the synergy of the
band gave this often hoary one the freshness and excitement of when it was first played. The pace was
reined back for D Rider and some of Nik's beautiful flute playing, though the lowness of the vocals in the
mix did this one even less favours than some of the others. Backing vocals from Jaki Windmill, Alice
Rhubarb & Deb E blended well into the multi-layered sound, adding to the mid-70's feel. Even with
additional guitar from Thomas Hewitt, space was left for Dave, Adrian Shaw & Ron Tree's interweaving
basslines to come through, complemented by Terry & Sam's restrained drumming.
D-Rider was followed by a Space Ritual (the album!) style Brainstorm, complete with chaotic backing
vocals, wah guitar, psyched out sax and synthy spaceouts, while Terry & Sam went into overdrive.
The disappointingly short set (limited by the Mean Fiddler's policy of packing punters in to hear records as
opposed to live bands from 11 pm) was concluded with Silver Machine, featuring Bob Calvertâ€™s son
Nick on vocals and everyone playing for all they were worth.
The 14 strong band were augmented by Angel & Deb E, dancing their way through a stunning array of
costumes changes and carrying on the Hawkwind tradition of the performance being a full audio-visual
If you haven't seen this core incarnation of the Hawks and consider yourself a true appreciator of
Hawkwind, then check Space Ritual out on their forthcoming tour!
Melissa & Colin
This is quite a nice venue, with tables upstairs on the left hand side of the venue overlooking the stage.
Nik Turner, Jerry Richards, Ron Tree and a few others with some v.sexy girls took the stage and
worked their way through some pretty boring material, with frequent belching and farting noises from
Nik's Sax. I can't help feeling that SpaceRitual.Net are attempting to hijack Dave Brock's creation. Nik
did show a *bit* of star quality but very much in the Elton niche. There was a touch of nostalgia in
some of the old Nik songs but these moments lasted for split seconds and didn't really do much to
distract me from thinking that they might make a better living doing, say, Graphic Design.
Before I start the review proper I will say that until I went to this gig I had no feelings one way or the
other regarding the whole Brock v Turner shenanigans that have been going on of late. Also, this was the
first time I had seen any Hawkwind-related band in some 12 years, so I'm sure that you can appreciate
that I was unsure what to expect !!
When we arrived at the venue it was still yet to open and there were some 20 / 30 punters queued up
outside. Due to the inclement weather (it was pissing down) we decided that the best course of action
was to retire to the nearest pub and have a couple of beers in anticipation of the night ahead. However by
the time we returned and got in (this was about an hour later), ICU were playing their last song of the
night - the Glenn Miller number "In The Mood". I asked some biker types what they had been like and
they told me that ICU played the whole set with 2 bassists and no guitars, so, as they put it, the sound
was a bit 'deep'. I feel that I should also mention at this time that there was a healthy number of people
inside the venue, however you would not call it packed by any stretch of the imagination.
Next up were Tractor who I had no form on before this gig. They were basically 2 guys, one on guitar
and the other on bongos / drums. I would describe their style as acoustic blues. After about 25 minutes
they were joined by former Thin Lizzy guitarist Eric Bell and together they ran through Whiskey In The
Jar and another bluesy number. In retrospect this was probably the highlight of the evening for me as I
am also a massive Lizzy fan.
And so it was on to the night's main attraction "SpaceRitual.Net", introduced by the MC / DJ Andy
Dunkley (who these days looks like a middle-aged second-hand car dealer, complete with trendy puffa
jacket). The band minus Nik trouped onto the small stage whilst Turner himself made his way through
the audience dressed in his red and white spiky costume as seen in the photo above. I have to say at this
point, that this had to be one of the most surreal sights I have ever seen on any stage as the band
numbered some 16 members (yes you read correctly, 16) and amongst them were guitarists - Mick
Slattery and Jerry Richards (I think): bassists - Thomas Crimble, Adrian Shaw, Dave Anderson (boo!
hiss! - I'll get that in so Starfarer doesn't have to) and Ron Tree (again, I think it was): and drummers
(Terry Ollis and his son Sam). You can add to this a bloke called 'Alice Rhubarb' (it won't be long before
you see him on Stars In Their Eyes - "Tonight, Matthew, I'm going to be Bob Calvert"), a woman playing
a single bongo, at least 2 'exotic' dancers, another bloke called Commander Jim Hawkman, who plays the
synths (the only reason that I know he was there was because he was introduced at the end, we never
saw him all evening as he was tucked down at the front of the stage, apparently), oh and of course Mr
Turner himself. I'm sure I've missed some people out but Iâ€™m equally sure that you get the drift .
So to the music itself!!! Once the assembled throng were ready (the band not the audience, stupid)
synthy noises began to emanate from the stage a-la 'space ritual' and before long the band were up and
running and playing Born To Go, which was swiftly followed by Orgone Accumulator. "So what was it
like?" I hear you cry - one word: 'chaotic'. Under-rehearsed is another (oh, that's two words)...I could
go on but I won't. The band played on doing Master of the Universe and Brainstorm amongst others and
finishing by encoring with Silver Machine. At this point Bob Calvert's son was brought (dragged?) out to
sing backing vocals. I may be wrong but from where I was standing the poor lad looked somewhat
bemused and embarrassed by the whole situation.
You may think that I have been somewhat scathing but in defence of the band I will say that I had a
thoroughly entertaining night. I mean, where else could you see so many people on stage, most of whom
(but not all I'm sure) start the same song at roughly the same time and finish it at roughly the same time.
What other band offers you 'exotic dancers', one of whom was so enthusiastic throughout that by the
end one of her breasts had fallen out of her 'exotic dress'. How many other bands have a female, single
bongo player (that's the number of bongos she plays, not her marital status) whose backing vocals
consist of sounding like a sheep reaching orgasm i.e. baaaaaaahhhhhhh. I'll tell you how many other
bands can offer you this - none (Thank God I hear you cry). And all this for only Â£12.50 + booking
Getting serious for a moment (if that's possible), I have to say that I found the whole thing a little bit
sad. Again I may be wrong but I didn't get the impression that those on the stage were particularly
enjoying themselves ('exotic dancers' excepted), to me it had very much a 'going through the motions'
feel to it. I would include Nik in this as I always remember him as the real 'fun guy' when I used to see
him with the Hawks, but on this night he seemed to lack any passion. I think in all seriousness that
having so many people on stage at any one time did not help matters, as it just added to the general â
€˜chaotic' feel to the whole evening. In my opinion what would have been better would be for there to
have been a nucleus of a band and then for other members / guests to come on and do one song each.
I am sure that many people will disagree with my opinions and if you do then fair enough, I'm just telling
it as I saw it.
May I just take the opportunity before I finish to say a couple of "thank yous", firstly to my partners in
crime for the night - Barry and Pete for having the same ironic sense of humour as me, meaning that we
had a bloody good laugh and last-but-by-no-means-least to spaceritual.net for making to possible to have
such a bloody good laugh at their expense.
We got there a bit late, so missed ICU. Mates who'd endured that set said we hadn't missed out on
anything. Tractor were excellent. Really good 60's vibe with a modern sound.
Spaceritual.net were much, much better than we expected, I have to say - I've heard a few shows on CD
and mates who were there had seen them at Glastonbury, Canterbury and Guildford. It started off OK,
but really ramped up all through the set until by the end they were blinding.
Volume on the mics was crap, so it was difficult to hear the vocals. Terry Ollis did a fantastic job,
everyone I spoke to commented on that. Nik was in fine form, and I'm not his greatest fan, although that
rubber suit could do with a spray of Febreze!!
We couldn't decide who exactly was doing all the really good bass bits (sorry to Messrs Shaw and
Crimble) but there were some stunning efforts from that department. Ron Tree's bass was well down in
the mix, he attempted some vocals early on but everyone was wondering what he was really adding to
the sound. Shame because I was hoping he might do some Calvert type stuff...
I enjoyed Jerry's guitar, but the others with me said they hadn't really picked up on his sound. This was
the first time I and most of the folks I was with had seen Commander Jim Hawkman play and he was
brilliant - some fantastic noises coming from his corner of the stage.
I can't quote the setlist, but they opened with Born To Go and did Silver Machine, Master of the
Universe, Brainstorm... There was some acoustic type number that Thomas Crimble did vocals on, that
really chugged along and was excellent.
View from the crowd was crap (we were by the mixing desk), but up at the cafe area you could look
directly down on the stage and see the mysterious head bobbing about at the back that was Adrian Shaw
and get a superb view of Terry doing the biz.
All in all a very laid back night, with some really good jam type versions of golden oldies. Looking
forward to the next one ....
This is just a few comments, I don't pretend this is thorough or comprehensive...
- Inner City Pomp -
This is what we got instead of the proposed ICU. I don't know who the announcer was (possibly Andy
Dunkley) but he said something before this band came on and I missed it all as I was getting food
upstairs. So as far as I can tell the band consisted of Nik, Dave Anderson (bass), Naz (guitar), Jim
Hawkman (synths) and others I didn't recognise on keyboards and drums (could have been Dino but I
didn't recognise him if it was). It was pretty poor to start with but improved a little. Very loose &
unrehearsed, not surprising under the circumstances. It seemed like a ropey attempt at turning what
would have a been a bonafide ICU reunion with Trev & Steve into a kind of Imperial Pompadours "wow,
it's so crazy anything could happen" type of thing. I wasn't too impressed.
Numbers attempted and mostly massacred included Space Invaders, Watching the Grass Grow, Bones of
Elvis, Little Black Egg, Gas Money. I didn't jot down a full setlist coz I didn't think it was worth it, but
don't worry coz Nik suggested we'd all just taken part in the live album recording of the event. Now
there's a surprise. I suppose some credit must go to Nik for trying to front this group at the last minute
and hold it together. However, my take on ICU was that they were never supposed to be The Nik Turner
Band, I always felt Trev & Fred & Steve were just as important if not more so than Nik, whereas what
we got here was really just Nik & The Stand-ins. If this is the future of ICU, please save us Judge, you're
our only hope!
- Tractor -
I'd never heard of this band until they started getting promoted along with Nik's band. Theyâ€™re a duo,
a singer/guitarist with a drummer/bongo player. I was very impressed. They had a good strong sound,
very tight, quite professional, put ICP to shame. Fair play to them. They did an encore with Eric Bell,
playing Whiskey In The Jar & another bluesy number. This was fun to hear, although he was one of
those good guitar players who just mumbles his vocals.
- Space Ritual.net -
The line-up was Nik, Jim Hawkman on synths, woman on bongos, bloke called Rhubarb on vocals, Mick
Slattery, Thomas Crimble, Jerry Richards & Hewitt-the-younger (all on guitar), Ron Tree, Dave
Anderson, Adrian Shaw (all on bass), Terry & Sam Ollis (both on drums) plus 2 dancers. Apart from
Hewitt-the-younger, all of the above were onstage at the same time throughout. The set was the same as
Guilfest more or less, except they've dropped the Coltrane number (which was Blue Train I think) and In
The Mood (coz Inner City Pomp did that), and instead they have put in a new number that Thomas sang
(called It's Alright or something similar) and they're also doing Born To Go now â€“ I remember
somebody requested it at Guilfest but as Mick didn't know it they didn't play it then. Other numbers were
Orgone Accumulator, D-Rider (a definite high-point, some nice flute there), Brainstorm, Master of the
Universe, Silver Machine. Can't remember the precise order. Nick Calvert joined in for Silver Machine.
How was it? It was driving, powerful early-HW-type noise some of the time, a cacophony of
unrehearsed pub-rock the rest of the time. Master was a good example - exciting to hear it and arguably
they try to play it with more energy than HW do, but it was still a loose mess with 3 bass players all
managing to get it wrong.
I suppose it all depends what you think a "party" gig should be. We all know the stories about the
PinkWind din sessions in the early 70s, the Deviants & The Pretty Things used to do the same in the 60s,
but that was at the end of the evening, when both bands had already done their "proper" thing. This is
clearly the spirit Nik is trying to evoke. But having all the guests on at once throughout the whole set
muddied things and detracted from the sound rather than enhance it IMHO. For example I can't honestly
say I heard a good guitar break all evening, Mick's playing was sadly lost in the overall noise, as was
Ron Tree did very little in the way of vocals, he looked hemmed in physically and musically, no room to
express himself. I was never a big fan of Ron but you've got to admit he had/has character and energy,
and none of that was expressed last night, he just stood there looking thoroughly sheepish throughout. A
few words about the Ollis duo though - they are superb, Terry's drumming seems perfectly suited to this
kind of stripped down basic early-HW-style music.
If I had to sum this performance up I'd say that I think I preferred the basic band at Guilfest (Nik, Mick,
Thomas, Terry & Sam, Jim), although that could have been the novelty value of seeing them for the first
time. The overall impression at Mean Fiddler was one of quantity over quality, very much a case of
"forget the music, just look at all the names we've got up here! Of course you can't hear most of them
but they they used to be in Hawkwind, so have fun!" etc etc.
Plenty of people seemed to be enjoying themselves, and I certainly did for some of it.
- Politics -
Unlike Guilfest, I didn't hear any preaching from the stage about "We're not trying to be Hawkwind
honest guv", the court case, Nik doing his "I'm so innocent" act etc. Neither was the "spirit of Barney
Bubbles/Bob Calvert" invoked, which is good coz I'm getting heartily sick of this lot dragging up any
name they can think of to justify what they're doing.
- Venue -
I missed the gig last year where people seem to have been treated so badly at this place. I personally had
no problem last night, I found the staff amiable and friendly and was not herded out at the end, despite
hanging around chatting to people after the band had finished.
Would I go again? Not to another G.Truckers party, possibly to another straight SpaceRitual.net gig
though, probably Southampton next year coz Judge Trev might play Black Raven in his support slot.
Otherwise, roll on the real HAWKWIND in December I say, with Bedouin and Silver Machine to keep us
going til then!