Thanks to Graham P for this festival review and photos from the Hawkeaster event held at Seaton
Gateway, March 30th-31st 2013
I did see Krankschaft's brief show and found out that they are rather more fun when not doing Calvert
songs. Fleshed out into a full band with drums and bass (it is a long time since I saw them last), with
Steve Pond at the front and Fred hiding behind his keyboards at the back, they kicked off with â
€œWatching the Grass Grow" and played a short set pleasingly thin on latter-day Calvert numbers: â
€œNed Ludd" received an airing; otherwise it was back in time to "Lord of the Hornets" and even further
back for a quite good "Aerospace Age Inferno". Steve puts his heart and soul into the rather excellent
"Come Fly With Us" (I think) and it was nice to hear "Cybernetic Love" and, especially, set closer "Raj
Neesh". There was at a new tune in there too, the title of which escapes me. Talking afterwards, Steve
Pond lamented losing Fred to Hawkwind (in a manner of speaking) but mentioned the possibility of doing
a solo album if it wasn't possible to do any new Krankschaft recording in the near future.
I caught some of Maria Daines' set - she has a fine blues voice and the songs were solid, pleasant but
generic blues rock - having said that, the CD I bought afterwards ("Treebone", which I think is a few years
old), is really excellent.
Then it was time for Q&A; no Matthew Wright (he
showed up late, claiming ignorance) and the
audience questions didn't really spark much in the
way of interesting anecdotes. Richard sadly seemed
to have retired badger. Nevertheless, the current
Hawkwind come across as a pretty contented unit -
only Fred was a bit grumpy.
Right: grumpy bloke cropped out (not deliberately!)
TOSH have sometimes lived up to their name but on this occasion they were as tight as a proverbial gnatâ
€™s arse. The new slimline Dibs is clearly the lynchpin and it helped that most of the other Hawks were
on-board: Tim, Richard and Fred played both Saturday and Sunday sets, while Niall contributed vocals to
the Sunday performance - but "new boy" Steve Bemand, who is a shit-hot lead guitarist (and competent
singer), helped raise the two TOSH sets to being major highlights of the weekend. The Saturday set started
out with "Be Yourself" and "Mirror of Illusion", moved into a most welcome â€œValium Ten" (why haven't
the Hawks themselves ever dusted off this one?), "Waiting for Tomorrow" (a tribute to Huw) and a
monstrous closing amalgum of "Born to Go" and "Earth Calling". Steve Bemand has a Hawkwind pedigree,
deputising for Dave Brock on a European tour in 1991 and he played alongside Richard in the Demented
Stoats and Smartpils. He also has a very fine space
rock album ("Convergence"", under the Timelords
banner) currently available as a download.
The evening session opened with Here and Now, a band I've managed to avoid until now, and they turned
out to be another revelation: a really inventive, effortlessly cool, witty, fun, take on psychedelic music.
They were clearly enjoying themselves onstage and it was infectious.
Left: Krankschaft. Above: TOSH
Seaton at Easter-time is a sleepy seaside town and it is immediately evident at (a) having arrived 30 minutes
late I have already missed Tim Blake and (b) Hawkwind have downsized again to play a modest town hall.
There is, throughout, a friendly, if slightly chaotic vibe... a sign in the cramped hallway optimistically
proclaims "much more upstairs", but this turns out to be two small rooms, one given over to a kidsâ€™
play area and a counter to buy a cup of tea, and the other featuring Sea Shepherd displays and people.
RSPB had a stall set up outside the venue.
The actual music content of the weekend was a bit fluid - Krel were moved up the schedule on Sunday so
I managed to miss their 30 minute set. Girlschool had disappeared and the less said about Electric Wizard
the better - suffice it to say that their "show" was delivered at deafening, council decibel limit defying,
volume to a backdrop of satanic pornography, just what you need for a family show. However, the fact
that Hawkwind didn't attract many support bands this time around had an up-side: the Hawk family
stepped into the breach and there were two sets each for Tim Blake, TOSH and Hawkwind, and two Q &
|Right: Stoat-like person Mr. Bemand on guitar
After all this excitement, it was finally time for the main Saturday night event...
The stage lay-out was much as usual: Tim's theremin and keytar on the left, Dead Fred's keyboards and
electric violin behind (one thing he did reveal at the Q&A was that he hadn't played it since touring with
the Hawks in the early 1980s). Dibs' bass and electric oboe were next right then a couple of saxophones
(surely not?... ). Behind the saxes is Richard's kit, then Dave Brock's guitars (including an acoustic).
Niall's bass, synth, etc are to the right.
|Above: speaking, as Graham was, about the stuff
Tim, Dibs, Richard and the roadies pottered around. Microphones were positioned, cables taped down.
Soon enough though the band ambled on and the house lights went down. After the now traditional poem
from Dibs (currently "The Awakening"), Hawkwind started their set with a rocking "Master of the
Universe", complete with authentic solo bass intro to the second section from Niall, and "Better Believe It"
with its mid-song breakdown "Space 2001". Next up, a trio of tunes from Onward: â€œThe Hills Have
Ears", the excellent "Seasons" and a dreamy "Southern Cross". The latter has gained a sax part from guest
saxophonist Michel Soana (well it wasn't very likely that Nik would return to the fold, was it?).
Dibs sings, plays electric oboe, bass and guitar and now looks much more at ease as front man, with
fewer stylised moves. Tim is back on form but we still benefit from Dead Fred's sterling work on
keyboards and (now) violin. Niall mainly plays bass but takes guitar duties when needed. Richard is as
solid as ever, with occasional contributions on vocals. Dave seems to take more of a supporting role these
days - few lead vocals, no synth work, just guitar - and he seemed to be particularly laid back on this
occasion, wandering off stage several times. The dancers and light/slideshow worked their magic and all
With no fanfare, the band slipped into the familiar intro to "Assault and Battery". Dibs took most of the
lead vocal, joined by Dave, as on "The Golden Void". Although Fred was equipped with violin, if he
recreated that high note on the changeover it wasn't apparent - the melody was carried on the keyboards.
However, at least the sax part on Golden Void is present and correct. In fact the only element which
jarred slightly was the lead vocals - they were good, but the vocal melodies seemed to have been modified
to suit Dibs' voice. The remainder of side 1 of WOTEOT has been uncharted territory in a live setting for
as long as I can remember, but "Opa Loka" was despatched efficiently. The acoustic guitar came out for
"The Demented Man" but, as with the opening tracks, and this time even though Dave as singing it, the
vocal melody didn't seem to quite match the original. No such problems with "Magnu", although it perhaps
lacked the menace of the original and this was the one occasion when the projections didn't quite work
(what were the horse and rider supposed to be doing exactly?). Dave left the stage entirely for "Dying
Seas" but came back for an excellent "Kings of Speed". The dancers were just fantastic. Maybe some of
the props were recycled from recent tours but much of the time there was an Elric-based storyline being
|Above left, Dave Brock. Above, Tim Blake
Left: lights, dancers...
Believe it or not there has been an attempt made to
match the photos with the text...acoustic guitar in
"The Demented Man" and "Magnu" graphic, below
After that, it was over all too quickly: a lengthy "Damnation Alley", a superb Dibs vocal performance on
"Sunship" (why relegate such a good song to a bonus track the vinyl edition of "Blood of the Earth"?),
"Arrival in Utopia" and a closing sing-along of "Spirit of the Age". Marion Lloyd-Langton came out on
stage to dance; a nice way to end an excellent day.
Having missed Krel due to late arrival, the first
event of real interest was the second Q&A session
(this time plus auction and fancy dress
competition). Matthew Wright was there as
compere and presided over some good-natured
banter and reminiscences from the stage. Dave
mentioned that his parents had lived in Seaton so
that they knew lots of people and he suggested
that they might do Hawkeaster here again. He also
talked about the difficulty of getting all the band
members' signatures for the re-release of
WOTEOT, due to ongoing feuds, and the mention
of Nik Turner elicited an exasperated response:
"you wouldn't believe what he's doing with the money.... You'll find out soon enough". A glance at Nik's
web pages tells us he has recently performed the Space Ritual album in the USA and is due to record with
William Shatner - who knows what else is coming!
Since I saw them supporting Hawkwind at Edinburgh Queen's Hall, the new look Syren have gelled into a
really slick band, so much so that the excellent first album stand-out "Dehumanized" was dispensed with
early on and was far from a highlight of the set. The stage gear showed a certain fondness for leather
straps (the hulking bass player mercifully an exception) but otherwise it was all played straight. Erin was
upbeat and energetic throughout and the keyboard-drenched sound sometimes strayed into glam rock -
definitely not a bad thing. They sounded great and the three-part female vocal harmonies were just
blissful, especially on their set closer (a new song). If this is what the new album sounds like, it should be
Mugstar [right] also impressed with their
relentless, driving proto-psychedelia, taking
minimalist repetition to extremes (the bass playerâ
€™s left hand rarely moved). They also don't do
much in the way of vocals (a few wordless chants
from the bass player) and the lightshow is as
monochrome as the sound but it worked just fine
and the CDs they had on sale ("Axis", "Lime" and
"Sun, Broken") all sound pretty good.
Next up were TOSH, again, this time kicking off with a very good "You Shouldn't Do that", followed by
"Dreaming", before repeating the remainder of the previous day's set ("Valium Ten", "Waiting for
Tomorrow", "Born To Go"). The line-up was augmented by Niall, who played percussion and sang
backing vocals. Most enjoyable... although perhaps they could have varied the set a bit more.
|Right: Paolo Di Canio lookalike = Steve Bemand
The family spirit which pervaded the weekend was only spoiled, mercifully briefly, by the pig-headed
antics of Electric Wizard, the main support on Sunday evening. Their on-stage Marshall stacks alone
contravened council decibel limits and almost caused the Sunday evening show to be closed down. At
least the kids at the front retreated rapidly from the initial aural assault and thus hopefully missed the rest.
After about five minutes I had also had enough and retreated to the foyer to read the Sunday papers.
Pretty soon it became clear that the volume was a problem and the band's response to being asked to turn
it down was to turn the volume up. In addition, their backdrop was, let's just say, far from politically
correct. Finally the plug was pulled, twice in fact (switching off the PA simply revealed that all the
volume was coming through the band's own on-stage speaker stacks) and they were asked to leave. A
certain amount of shouting ensued (mainly from the drummer) but peace and calm were duly restored.
What were Electric Wizard thinking? Maybe in other circumstances their act would have been more
appropriate but not at a family show on a Sunday evening in a small seaside town hall. Anyway, full
marks to Kris and the crew for saving the day and to the Hawks for rousing the spirits again with a
second impeccable set.
Essentially this second set was a repeat of the first but it was well worth hearing WOTEOT twice and, if
anything, the Sunday set was stronger, with Dave Brock a more foreceful presence - possibly because he
had been a bit over-relaxed on Saturday night. This time round, after the end of the WOTEOT
presentation, the set closed out with "Psychedelic Warlords", "Spirit of the Age" and "Silver Machine".
Let's hope they keep their promise and run a Hawkeaster this every year.