|Hastings - HawkFest 2002 Review
I should have titled this "The Text of Festival - Starfarer's Despatch"!
Hawkwind hosted the HawkFest, or 1st Hawkwind Summer Camp, from July 19th - 21st, 2002. They also played a warm-up gig at Hastings Pier on July 18th. I flew to the UK to catch the whole thing and had a blast. Here's the story & pics (by Rob Dreamworker unless noted otherwise - thx Rob!) of What I Did On My Holidays
|Captain Bl@ck bids you welcome|
|Tim Blake (seated, centre) outside Pete Pracownik's tent|
|The combe with the sea beyond|
|This photo courtesy of Tom Byrne...spot the Lost Druid :-)|
|HawkFest crowd - thanks to Alan Taylor for this pic. 2 of the 3 tall Dutch blokes can be seen by the folding chairs just to the right of the Range Rover. Mike Holmes is also visible, just right of centre with his back to the camera, in his technicolor dreamcoat - look for the blob of colour, that's him!|
|Above: How we got there, despite some disagreement between navigator & pilot at Charmouth|
|The Hors D'Ouevre - Hastings ticket (issued by the venue)|
|Right: The Festival Flyer|
|As a last word on this subject I'd just like to say "Groeten aan de drie lange Hollanders die uit Holland gereden zijn. Ik hoop jullie te zien op het volgen de HawkFest. Volgen de keer a.u.b. niet voor mij staan (grapje!)"|
|Above: the Festival ticket: designed by Jim Finity of Strange Trips. Thanks to Jim for the image|
|Above: the official HawkFest T-shirt design, by Jim Finity of Strange Trips. Thanks to Jim for the image|
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|Hastings Thurs 18th July
Just me and my mate Ben for Hastings. We drove down from London and went to our campsite first, put the tents up and walked down to the pier to buy our tickets. The first time I ever saw a hippy (well, a bloke with long hair) was on Hastings Pier in 1969. I remember being astonished...I was still astonished 33 years later by the grungey quality of the crowds lining up to see Hawkwind. Where DO these people come from?!
As soon as we got in, we were met at the door by Arin and Rich, who were leafleting the throng. Only having met them on the Hawkwind chat channel before, it was a pleasure to have grubby Voiceprint flyers thrust into our hands in this way. I also met Stuart, man of the Zeitgeist, who produces The Rocker...a most excellent chap!
Inside, avoiding the more dangerous looking elements of the crowd, we run into my mates Rob and Mike...I put on Ben’s white coat which he is too embarrassed to wear and before you know it Mr Quimby’s Beard hit the stage. Now I have heard good things about this lot but have never heard anything they’ve done apart from a couple of early MP3’s. They are really pretty good...each of their numbers sounds somewhat samey on first hearing but it’s an excellent sound. They are halfway between having a mid-70’s Hawkwind vibe and an early Pink Floyd sound. Drums, bass, keyboards, two guitars, vocals. One guitarist plays a Strat with a clean sound featuring lots of delay. The other guitarist, who also does the lead vocals, has a punchier sound. He looks slightly like a paler version of Richard Thompson, but thank god he sings about 1,000 times better. Mr Quimby’s Beard play for the best part of an hour and get a good reception from the crowd.
Hawkwind come on stage at 9pm. The band consists of Dave Brock (guitar), Simon House (keyboards and violin), Tim Blake (synths), Alan Davey (bass), Richard Chadwick (drums and sequencers) and Danny Thompson (drums). After a synthy intro which I later found out was Earth Calling, they launch into Night of the Hawks, followed by Flying Doctor. Only the vocals, drums, bass and guitar are audible, but the band are tight. As far as I can recall Danny played drums on those two numbers with Richard hovering over some electronic device behind his drumkit. The 3rd number in the set was LSD, excellently done, and I think Richard played drums on that. At some point during the set, Hawkwind mentioned that Captain Rizz was meant to have joined them but had not shown up.
After LSD, Huw ambled on stage and Dave announced that Huw would play a solo piece. This was the "Greensleeves"-ish "For Kirsty" and he made an almighty mess of it. Not only did Huw seem to play it very very badly, his guitar sound was horribly harsh and in-your-face, light years removed from the ethereal tones he provided from ‘79 onwards. For Kirsty mutated into a HLL group number (I think) called Strange Flower. This reminded me of one of the released versions of "Time We Left", which fades in with a staccato 2-chord riff: Strange Flower sounded like an elaboration of that riff.
Lighthouse was the next number to be played. This seemed to be a whole band affair rather than a Tim Blake solo piece, and as I recall it was creditably done, although half the band were still inaudible. Huw disappeared completely out of the mix, despite having been all too evident during For Kirsty and Strange Flower. The only constants were the drums (whether Danny or Richard – they never both played on a number, as far as I can recall), the bass and Dave’s rhythm guitar. This had the effect, from where I was standing of making it a very "blanga" performance, and I personally did not agree with a number of folks who said afterward that it was a dreadful gig. I thought the band played well, it was just the inaudibility of various instruments at various times that made us less than happy. The sound was not even muddy and/or muffled in the way that the Hawkestra gig (Oct. 2000) was – but all these things are subjective and depend on where in the hall you are, acoustically.
Next up was Spiral Galaxy, with only drums, bass and violin audible. Simon’s violin playing was astonishing, more like a 3-minute long glissando guitar solo. He played like a dervish and his cuban heeled boots were pumping away on what I took to be a wah pedal. I’ve always seen Simon House as a superb musician (the best to ever play in Hawkwind) but I did not realise he had it in him to be a guitar hero!
Another revelation followed: Spirit of the Age done as a Tim Blake solo piece. Again contrary to most reports, I thought this was great – not that I am a fan of Tim’s singing, but he did it with conviction, and really went for it when playing a wigged-out synth solo between verses. It was great to hear this song given a completely new treatment, but to be honest I think I would tire of it fairly quickly.
Something I *have* tired of is always hearing Hassan-i-Sahba in the set, and here it was again. However there was one nice innovation, it started off with the opening chord sequence from "Mask of the Morning". Wouldn’t it be better, though, if it kept on being Mask of the Morning instead of turning into Assassins of Allah?
Damnation Alley followed, then The Watcher and (a surprise) Brainbox Pollution. The sound was slowly improving, particularly from The Watcher onwards, and Brainbox Pollution was probably the highlight of the gig. Then they did something that I took to be a new number, but it was in fact You Shouldn't Do That with a reprise of Earth Calling. It sounded like the opening of Motorway City to start with, and the ending was like the one on the Roadhawks version of You Shouldn’t Do That, i.e. the same as Seeing It As You Really Are. This was somehow meant to be Earth Calling, I suppose.
That was it for the main set. The encore consisted of Motorway City and Hurry on Sundown – which ever since Huw came back into the band, has become a standard. They were doing this all last year. On this particular occasion I thought Hurry On Sundown was a very appropriate choice to close out the evening, because the next morning we would be driving across the south of England to the Hawkfest, for which this was just the appetiser... Anyway, that was it for tonight. Hawkwind had played for just under 2 hours and were tight despite the sound problems. Most likely they were going to be even better at the fest.
Hawkfest Friday 19th July
Our route was along the South Coast, picking up Ali (no, not that Ali) in Brighton and then getting the M27 over into the New Forest, which was the only bit of motorway during our 7 hour drive. Nice bucolic A-roads for the most part, and sunny skies, becoming steadily more scenic as we got into the western part of Dorset. We were in no hurry, playing Warrior On The Edge of Time, Alien 4, The Business Trip and California Brainstorm in the car, and making a few stops along the way. Finally at about 7pm we found ourselves skirting past Seaton looking out for the fest site. It was on the other side of the road than we had expected and a smiling policeman ushered us politely into an empty field, with directions to drive down alongside the hedge until we came to a gate.
|We pulled up to a gazebo and there sat Captain Black whom I greeted by his first name – he just looked at me and asked who I was, ha ha ha. So much for hobnobbing with the stars, I thought. At the same moment, my friend Tom, who again I had only ever met in the Hawkwind chat channel, turned up. We said our hellos and then flourished our precious fest tickets, obtaining which had seemed to cause everyone so much anguish. While these were being processed, Dave Brock wandered by but it seemed a little early in the proceedings to commence the ligging.
They strapped silver bracelets on us, let us in and pointed us into the next field. There were already tents all the way around the edge of the field (but not that many overall), so we set up somewhere in the middle. A band was playing, we could see the
|stage (an enormous purple erection, i.e. steel-framed tent) over in the next field... Unfortunately putting up the tents meant we never managed to get over there and see this band playing. They were Litmus, and on the basis of what we heard, were excellent. Later on we met and chatted with them, they are really nice guys, too.|
|excellent, there was a beer tent and about 6 portaloos nearby...then a van where CD’s of the festival bands were being sold. Next to that was Pete Pracownik’s tent, with his artwork for sale, then some sort of official-looking tent where people with gold bracelets (those managing the event) were wont to hang out. A couple of gypsy caravans and then one of the children’s play areas, a row of venerable wooden swingboats such as you might see at a traditional funfair. At the bottom of the field, where we expected to see a row of caterers, there was just one place: a bender (that’s a canvas covering over a structure of intertwined poles) hosting a vegetarian café. We heard that Hawkwind’s festival hotline had been inundated by fans who had got tickets for the Guildford festival in the mistaken belief that Hawkwind were playing there, and consequently attendance at the Hawkfest was only around 500 instead of the 1,000 expected. All the caterers bar the vegetarian bender dwellers had pulled out on hearing this.
There was one other place selling food and sundries, a caravan entitled The Corner Shop: and another children’s play area, the Acoustic Tent, and a Jazz tent. That was it apart from an assorted collection of tents, buses and other vehicles off to the side and behind the stage. There seemed to be a lot of empty space, but this actually turned out to be a blessing, making the whole event smaller-scale and friendly. We met so many people over the weekend, some we had already met in person, others we had only "met" online or knew only from the email lists: and others who were complete strangers until that point. The atmosphere was fantastic, and reminded me of Stonehenge Free Festivals of old, before they got ruined by drug dealers and aggressive bikers. This had to be the only place on Earth where anything like that atmosphere can be found, the Free Fest scene having long since disappeared.
|Finally we made it into the main field. There was a ceiling of 1,000 Hawkwind Passport holders for this festival, but looking around, there seemed to be no more than 200 people in evidence. The stage was|
|The setting for the festival was wonderful. That part of Devon is basically a plateau, cut by the occasional steep and wooded little river valleys which zigzag their way down to the sea. The fields we were in were on this plateau, and the ground fell away steeply down into one of these valleys, or combes as they are known locally. Standing with|
|our backs to the stage, we had a marvellous view of this with the sea visible some 3 miles away. There was a farm away on the far side of the valley, but otherwise no human habitations or artefacts to be seen. And the weather was perfect, being fine dry and sunny, with enough broken cloud to provide respite from fear of sunburn.
While we were stumbling around gawping at all this, another band came on and played: Bruise. I quite enjoyed their set without being able to tell you anything much about them. Meanwhile we were meeting people as they arrived. Rob was there with a guy called Stephe (pronounced "Steve") who had flown in from the USA, and Rob had picked him up from Gatwick and driven from there to Devon. Stephe had a wonderful deadpan sense of humour and everyone took to him at once. We linked up with Arin and Rich again, and I went over and said hi to Jill, whom I had met briefly at Canterbury in 2001. This time we had a chance to chat at greater length and commiserated at the monopoly situation enjoyed by the vegetarian café - I remember boasting of having loaded up with pork products in fear of just such an eventuality...I also met Rik, the Mission Control webmaster, and Val, and no doubt several others whose names escape me now...
Next band up were Mr Quimby’s Beard, who I will not describe again, since they had played support the night before in Hastings. I thought they played better at Hastings than at the Hawkfest, but still excellent. Headlining that night were Bedouin, who were blinding. Alan Davey turned in an amazing performance - bassist, vocalist and bandleader, all at once. Glenn Povey did the business on lead guitar, this was the best I had seen him play. It was dark by now and the lightshow was very good. I don’t know Bedouin’s material well enough to know what their setlist was, but it did include Elric The Enchanter and As Above, So Below. And am I imagining it, or did they play "Wings"? They got a well-deserved very warm reception from the crowd, and closed the set just before 11pm, which was when all amplified proceedings had to stop, under the terms of the licence which had been granted for the festival. We stood around chatting for a while and people began drifting off to their tents in ones and twos - it was getting pretty cold as well as dark. Never mind: tomorrow promised to be even better, with an acoustic set from Dave Brock in the afternoon and Hawkwind headlining in the evening...
|Hawkfest Saturday 20th July
Foolish optimist that I am, I got up on Saturday morning and walked to the portaloos with my towel and washbag, expecting to be able to at least wash. No such luck...there were washbasins, but would they dispense any water? No. People were resorting to washing at the taps (faucets) as that was the only water to be had. The loos themselves were also starting to become foul, and our strategy began to become clear: get off the festival site during the morning and early afternoon, when nothing was happening, and find somewhere with public toilets. Those normally reviled facilities were now seen as citadels of hygiene.
Those of us who were awake decided after the chill of last night that we should get some firewood. We had to seek far and wide to get it, but found what we needed on the upper slopes of the combe. This little excursion was enlivened by stumbling upon 2 gothic women (although one was subsequently thought to possibly be a man) who appeared to be washing each other’s genitals with bottled water. We also later saw these two repeating their genital ablutions at one of the taps, and wandering away without bothering to cover up the laundered region. I got the impression that this was a silent & obsessive activity for the pair of them – it was certainly done in an unsmiling, completely asexual way :-0
We brought the firewood back and stashed it in my tent. (Thanks for the bits of bark in my sleeping bag, lads.) After *some* of us ate breakfast, while *others* lay snoring and farting (& possibly worse) we joined Rob and Stephe in going to Beer, a little seaside village some 3 miles away. Our first stop was a pub, in the corner of which were a number of locals whom I took to be farmers. One, the oldest and fattest, had evidently sat there ruling the roost for donkey’s years and I eavesdropped as he held court. He never mentioned the name of the farmer on whose land the festival was taking place but I heard him say in a broad Devon accent: "He’s got about 12 acres up there and he’s having one of them there raves. It was through him that I first met Horkwind, they’re one of the top heavy rock groups in this country and they’re doing this rave". The bar staff were affable and asked if we were enjoying ourselves. They seemed not too terrorised by the presence of these infamous ravegoers, maybe because we’d all been able to clean ourselves up by this time.
Afterwards we walked down to the stony beach. Ben, Ali and I had brought swimsuits and towels. We went in for a swim. The water was pretty cold (about 61 Fahrenheit would be my guess) but beautifully clear and invigorating as hell. The worst bit was walking barefoot on the stones – bring flip-flops next year, kids! We ate lunch (an all-day breakfast) by the water and slowly walked back up through Beer to the car, getting back to the festival site later than we’d planned. I asked around, and Dave Brock hadn’t played an acoustic set. This never materialised, in fact, because Mike King, who was to have flown in from Venezuela to participate, had pulled out. It was noticeable that there were more people around, though: some had evidently arrived on the Saturday morning rather than the Friday evening.
|The first band that came on and played on Saturday was Proteus. I missed their set entirely, but I hear that they were made up of 2 guys playing keyboards and did at least one techno number. I did see Tribe of Cro. I had always believed them to be a rave band but not so, or not these days at any rate. They played interesting, spacey indie rock. I liked their lead guitarist who played a big semi-acoustic with a|
|wireless cord – at one point he jumped down off the stage and wandered through the crowd, still playing. He went out of range and then meandered back, and I swear he was playing a solo as he ducked under the tape that cordoned off the backstage area and came back in at the back of the stage.
I’ve lost track of the running order, but the One-Eyed Bishops played. This band consisted of Mike Burro from Sloterdijk plus some other chaps drafted in for the occasion, most notably a washboard player from Lancashire (not Australia, as I first thought - Mike Burro announced him as having come from the Northern territory!) It was bluesy, acoustic rock, although he did have a loud electric guitarist on hand. Enjoyable but not the most memorable IMHO.
I think Spacehead came on next. I’m not a fan of this band, but only Mr. Dibs, the bassist, was there from their normal line-up. The drummer was someone who he’d never played with before & who did a very creditable job: well done, sir!! Keith Barton, who’s after my wah pedal, played guitar: and Keith Kniveton tinkled the ivories. What I most enjoyed about their set was their cover of Space Is Deep, on which Keith did some great wah guitar, a la the Space Ritual version. Keith, you don’t need my wah pedal, mate! Dave Brock was also at the back of the stage and was playing along on synth and I have an idea that Tim Blake was jamming too. It was a great way for Spacehead to finish their set. I chatted to Mr. Barton afterwards and he’s an absolute brick! Yes, I did spell that with a "B", Keith...
|Simon House in the vegetarian café . Photo taken by Ben with my f***ing camera|
|Astralasia next. Another band on which I’m not overly keen. They consisted of a guitar player and two blokes on keyboards, and it was what I had been fearing that Tribe of Cro were going to be. Trance music I suppose you might call it - left me cold. I wandered off down to the café to enjoy a cup of tea and a lovely vegetarian Snickers bar. Ali and Ben were there too and various members of Hawkwind were popping in and out, as they had been all weekend. Ben started bugging me about talking to members of the band, saying I had a right to hang out with them because I have a Hawkwind website! He also tried to grab my camera off me so he could use it to accost band members and ask for a photograph to be taken with them. This pissed me right off because I really only like the music and have no desire to meet, socialise with or pester anyone just because they’re in Hawkwind. Ben was equally pissed off because I wouldn’t let him get hold of the camera. We were sat by the entrance to the café while this somewhat heated wrangling was going on. Then Simon House wandered in. Ben went over to him and said "my mate over there has a Hawkwind website and wants to know if he|
|could have his photo taken with you". Simon House said yes, OK, so I had to go through with it. I sat there glowering at the lens as Ben took the picture, and sat a good 2 feet away from Simon House (who didn’t look too thrilled at being bothered, either). Then I took Ben’s picture with Simon House, which actually made a better photograph as it turned out. The whole thing was not my idea and I was thoroughly pissed off with Ben for the rest of the day. We subsequently made peace, though – Ben was just looking for some good pics for me to put on my website, after all :-)
I also met an interesting bloke called Martin, who I thought looked vaguely like a traveller. We got talking in the café and he told me that he'd never seen Hawkwind before, but had come to the fest because "Brocky lets me keep some of my animals on his land." I wanted to find him again after Hawkwind had played to see what he'd made of it, but I didn't see him again after that. I also met Chaoslord, a bloke who's previously supplied me with photos to put on the site - another happy coincidence: the weekend was full of them :-)
Finally, Hawkwind came on at 9pm (again - they *are* punctual!) and played exactly the same setlist as at Hastings, which I won’t repeat here. This time the sound was good, and I thought the band played at 80% of their full potential - it was good but not great. Huw definitely played better than at Hastings, and this time Keith Kniveton was playing too, adding EMS Synthi. Including Ali Davey’s synths and Richard Chadwick’s sequencers, that meant there were 6 keyboard players on stage! (Alan, Tim, Dave, Richard, Keith & Simon). Jez Huggett was also onstage, so that made a very full line-up, nine people in all. One notable absentee was any material from the new Destruction of the Death Generator album, which is probably still being recorded. But this time "You Shouldn’t Do That" was immediately recognisable and Ali, whose favourite song this is, went into raptures. They faded it out into Earth Calling, and it sounded more like that than it did like the "Seeing It As You Really Are" coda... Captain Rizz did appear to do one number during the middle of Hawkwind's set, to backing tapes.
|I was busy taking photographs and trying to avoid the 3 tall Dutch blokes down the front who always seemed to be in front of me, wherever I moved to. There was also a couple who seemed to be out of it on mushrooms, they too were right down the front throwing themselves and each other around, and rolling around on the ground some of the time, either having or simulating intercourse. Not that I have any problem with any of that but why right there, down the front? There were a lot of mushrooms being eaten at the fest, and at least one location where free cold mushroom tea was available to anyone who wanted it. Er, no thanks...
Because of the 11pm curfew, Hawkwind didn’t have a main set and then an encore. They went straight from Earth Calling to Motorway City and finished with Hurry On Sundown. It was a little anticlimatic, but the reason was made clear to everyone and it was such evident good sense, that nobody seemed to really mind. Jez Huggett’s Band of Gold subsequently played a set in the acoustic tent, which I missed entirely. I think I was in the café snarling at Ben or something. We did also have our camp fire, and a guy called Richard came and chilled (if that’s the word) round the fire with us: all part of the festie vibe.
Hawkfest Sunday July 21st
Got up, went to the portaloos. Unbelievably disgusting and completely unusable. I remembered the mushroom couple who’d been dancing down the front the night before and thought - that’s why some people cannot aim properly. Those mushrooms have a lot to answer for.
After washing my hands I made breakfast for myself, Ali and Ben. I was getting the hang of cooking an entire meal for three on a single burner by now, and the pork products were holding up well. Rounded up Rob and Stephe, and also Alan and his wife Andrea, and we all set off for Sidmouth, another nearby seaside resort, but a small town rather than a village. I parked the car right outside a public toilet and Ali, Stephe and I raced to be first in. We were considerably more relaxed when we all surfaced outside afterwards. We wandered into a café and bumped into Arin and Rich, eating breakfast. Alan and Andrea wandered off to walk around the town but the rest of us went down to the beach. Only Ben & I swam this time. It was just as cold and clear as yesterday. Arin & Rich had to return to the festival site to pack up (they couldn’t stay for the Sunday evening) so we said our goodbyes to them, and went to find Alan and Andrea in a pub. Ali and I ate stodgy food in a greasy spoon and then rejoined them in the pub before going back to the fest site. I
|bumped into Tom there just as he was trying to find out what was happening with the drum workshop which Richard Chadwick was providing. As luck had it, the drum workshop was finishing, but Tom’s son managed to get 10 minutes in, jamming with Richard Chadwick. Bernadette, Tom’s wife, had disappeared, so I went to find her and tell her to come quick. Instinct told me that she would be at the beer tent, in a vain attemptt to blot out the horror of all these hippies. Fortunately she was, and she managed to catch most of her son’s participation.|
|A little while later we were back in the vegetarian café when one of the genital-washing gothic women (?) walked across the field in a minute skirt and a thong. Halfway across the field the thong came loose and she stopped and slipped it off before continuing on her way. Stephe drawled slowly "How’s that going to feel when she’s sitting in the graaaassss?" We didn’t get the chance to ask, and that was the one of the possibly indeterminate gender anyhow, so it may not have been an issue :-)
The bands started up again, and Tim Blake played a set. Quite enjoyable. Ali and I wandered off for a walk and went down the hill to the bottom of the valley. As we slipped over the brow of the slope, the music became muted and we tottered carefully down a steep sunlit meadow with the muted strains of Tim Blake floating down from the hilltop. At the bottom of the valley was a stream which had been dammed to form a series of ponds. There must have been upwards of a hundred ducks down there, so we went wide around them in case anyone mistook their quacking for Tim’s singing. (Only kidding, Tim...) The woods alongside the pond were evidently not managed at all, being very dense and full of fallen trees. All the way down there it was utterly silent and we couldn’t hear the music any more...strange to think there was a rock festival taking place just a few hundred yards away.
When we got back up to the top, Tim had finished and Connecting Routes were on. They are a reggae band who featured on the Traveller’s Aid Trust album, when they were called Israel Movement (I think): veterans now, but a good set. Ben got well into them. After that Judge Trev came on to do an acoustic set and his first number was Rajneesh. All his between-songs patter invoked the name of Inner City Unit, which as Rik remarked, was unlikely to please Dave Brock. I didn’t sit and watch Juge Trev (hearing "Rajneesh" again was enough for me, not being an ICU fan), but wandered about the festival site when I saw Dave Brock. He was walking across the field and had been accosted by some people. I lurked unostentatiously (or so I thought) for a couple of minutes before losing patience. So I resumed my trajectory towards the vegetarian café and realised that Mr. Brock was also moving. So I did exactly what I’d been giving Ben a hard time for, and said "Captain..." As I was doing this I was thinking "the poor bloke can’t even walk 10 yards across a field without some c*** bothering him" but I'd already committed myself: I wanted to say thanks and just to speak to this bloke who’s captured my attention for the last 27 years...
So we chatted briefly and I told him I’d flown in from Las Vegas for the festival, and reminded him that I’ve got his old wah pedal. I completely forgot to mention this website though. We talked a bit about him jamming with Spacehead and then he shook my hand. He was very personable and jovial and has bright blue eyes. He also has a very firm and bony handshake! He said "cheers, mate!" and then I wandered off, one ambition in this life satisfied :-)
|I also went over to the entrance to the site to get my Hawkwind Passport stamped, and chatted with Tone (Captain Bl@ck’s girlfriend). She too asked me about the pedal and said I should talk to Keith about getting the pot replaced. As it happened I didn’t bend Keith’s ear about that, I had already chatted to him a bit and he was kind enough to compliment me on an MP3 that I had recorded and emailed to him. God, all these people are so NICE!
Things were winding down now, quite a few people had left, but there was still one more act to appear on stage. Huw Lloyd Langton’s Broken Bits Band – in other words, Huw and whoever he could find to put a band together with. Martin Griffin was on drums despite having a broken leg, and Ali suggested I just watch him for a while. I did and I’m glad I did, because he’s wonderful to watch. He doesn’t just hit the drums, every movement is a flourish, as gaudy and flamboyant as his enormous handlebar moustache. He is also far from being the metronomic plodder for which he is sometimes criticised.
Mr. Dibs played bass and someone whose name I didn’t catch was on keyboards. Huw played better than he had for Hawkwind the night before, although the in-your-face guitar sound was still there. He was playing his semi-acoustic Gibson Nighthawk and the set was mostly impromptu and improvised. It was very enjoyable though – a loose jam with Huw opening up and enjoying himself. There were some recognisable numbers, including Rocky Paths... The walkabout lead guitarist from Tribe of Cro had replaced Mr. Dibs on bass for a while, and played on that number. Many of us were hoping that Dave Brock would come on and jam, but it didn’t happen. Never mind: the festival ended on a high.
Going home Monday July 22nd
Left the site at 11.30am, one of the last to pull out :-) We stopped to fill up the car near Honiton and I overheard someone who worked in the petrol station refer to us as "friends of Mr. Brock". It certainly felt like it. What other band would do this for their fans, and mingle so freely and put up with it all? I can’t think of a single one.
We visited Stonehenge on the way back, which was very soulless, being ringed by concentric circles of rope, tourists and English Heritage blazers. We also went for a pint in the Wheatsheaf at Lower Woodford, a few miles south of the Stones.
Finally got back into London at about 7pm, and that felt really weird after being in the festie atmosphere for 3 days. God it was nice to get clean again, though.
Well, my recollection is a bit vague and I’m sure I’ve missed out names of people I met and talked to. Old Muchos Nachos was there, I’ve just remembered, and Mike Holmes, and I met Kevin Sommers and Jerry Lascko and Scott, and Colm and Suzanne, and Wilfried and Anke, and Peter Wibrew... I also missed out on meeting a few people who I've subsequently found were at the fest: Ian the Derbian, John Majka and Nick Lee come to mind. Next time, hopefully. Apologies to anyone I’ve forgotten. And I’ve probably mixed up what happened when and to whom, but it doesn’t really matter.
There are some people who worked their balls off behind the scenes to make this a success and they deserve thanks: Kris and Tone, Jan and John, Mr. Dibs, Keith Barton, and Scouse, who ran the P.A., were all unsung heroes. And the people from Chaos Illumination, who did the lightshow. And thanks to the people who ran the vegetarian café, who worked hard and did a great job to be appreciated even by carnivores like me.
There are hopes and/or plans to make this an annual event and I really hope it happens. I’d come back for it if at all humanly possible wherever I happen to be living at the time (though I think Kevin Sommers pipped me at the post for the record of being the Hawkwind fan who travelled the greatest distance to attend the Fest).
I’m sure next time will be better. For my part I’ll be bringing more warm clothes, because I had forgotten how cold it can be at night in the middle of summer in England: and the flip-flops. Otherwise it was just bloody perfect, the best weekend I’ve had in years. Thanks to everyone I met, everyone who played and everyone who made it happen. It was blinding and we had a great time!