|Hawkwind DVD Guide
This review looks at the Hawkwind DVDs that can be purchased and rates them, purely in my
not-at-all-biased opinion... If anyone out there wants to review any older DVD or VHS video releases I would
be very pleased to publish on this page. Email me here with your reviews.
At the time of writing (June 2002) there are three Hawkwind DVD's that are generally available, although they
may not be easy to locate. Try the normal CD outlets such as Amazon & CD Services etc..
There are RealPlayer samples from the COTBS and Night of the Hawks DVD's, plus one from the Love In
Space video at Outlaw TV
Left: Back of the Love In Space
DVD. (The front is the same as
like The Enid and Roy Harper. That only has 5 Hawkwind numbers on it.) This is probably the feeblest
Hawkwind video out there, in my humble opinion. The band consists of Nik Turner on vocals, Dave
Brock on guitar, Alan Davey on bass (his first Hawkwind gig, I believe: he does well), Harvey Bainbridge
on keyboards and Danny Thompson on drums. That's a good band, but the material is not the strongest:
no real classic Hawkwind tracks there, with the exception of Sonic Attack, which is full of Nik's
histrionics. In fact Nik's influence is very strong on this production, with his frontman persona being
expressed in a variety of strange costumes, including a black skateboarding helmet and Demis
Roussos-style kaftan. The technical qualities are not too great, and it appears that this was filmed using at
most 2 low-budget camcorders - probably in keeping with the festival vibes. There aren't really any
The most atmospheric part is when they play at dawn, with the sun rising. The Ken Barlow mantra is
included, but is not one of the musical highlights....Uncle Sam's On Mars is probably the best track. This
video is best watched with the sound turned down and a Hawkwind CD playing - there's plenty of local
colour, with the punky vestal virgin dancers and closing shots of the encampment. (These are very
nostalgia inducing!) But as a record of Hawkwind playing live in the setting that perhaps suited them best,
it's disappointing. 5/10.
October 2004: There has been a subsequent DVD release of this which I reviewed separately here
The Solstice at Stonehenge
The Classic Rock DVD
This was filmed on 25th January 1990 in Nottingham (at Rock City?)
for an ITV series called Bedrock. It was broadcast at 3.00am one
night a few months later (10th May 1990 to be precise). It has also
been released previously under the name "Live Legends", only on VHS
video, I believe, but with an extra track (Wind of Change, the encore
of the set, which was not shown on Bedrock). This release does not
include Wind of Change. The tracklist is Lives Of Great Men, Void
Of Golden Light, Out Of The Shadows, Night Of The Hawks, Back
In The Box, Utopia, Ejection and Damnation Alley. (The first two
tracks are of course better known as Assault & Battery and The
Golden Void.). Personnel consists of Dave Brock on vocals, guitar,
and keyboards, Alan Davey on vocals and bass, Harvey Bainbridge on
keyboards and vocals, Simon House on violin, Richard Chadwick on
drums, and Bridgett Wishart on vocals. Simon had started guesting
with the band again some time in 1989, and this was a very strong
line-up. His violin playing is excellent and I hold him responsible for
restoring the Assault & Battery / Golden Void suite to the band's live
set. played as well as ever they were during the band's mid-70's heyday. Assault and Battery features Alan
Davey and Dave Brock in tandem on vocals, with Dave's voice predominating. Bridgett's first vocal outing
is on the Golden Void, and it's different, but it works. She appears in a one-piece swimming costume
(wot, no bikini?) and goggles, for no apparent reason...
There is quite a bit of interplay between band members, with Dave Brock exchanging grins with Simon
House and with Alan Davey - Simon only smiles during the band's classic numbers, he looks as miserable
as sin when playing less sublime cuts such as Night of the Hawks. In fact at one point, as the camera
zooms in on his rather bleak expression I would swear he is thinking "I've played with Bowie - is this the
only gig I can get?" To my ears this video echoes the Sunday Times reviewer who described
EpochEclipse as being enthralling and appalling in equal measure - some of it is superb, some dire, with the
low point coming in Back In The Box. For my money this is one of Hawkwind's poorest songs, and it
trails off into a laughable piece of performance art, featuring Harvey, Bridgett and a kilted roadie (not Mr.
Dibs)....but the next track, Utopia, is blinding, probably the best number they do. It outclasses every other
version of that song I've heard.
Also appearing are Kris Tait and Wango Riley (fire-eaters) and Julie Murray (dancer). Julie Murray is
dressed as a curiously sexless Hippy Ballerina and cavorts along to Out Of The Shadows and part of Night
Of The Hawks. Quite effective. Wango and Kris feature in Ejection and Damnation Alley. Kris looked
very different way back then...what they do is quite alarming, when you notice the open buckets of fuel on
stage, along with their burning torches....
All in all this is a good DVD and is probably the most easily obtained of them all. 8/10.
3rd October 2004: Graham Hawker sent in this look at the Live Legends VHS video, which was the
precursor to the Classic Rock DVD:
I'm not going to waffle on too much here because this is the same as the DVD except for the addition of
Wind of Change. It has to be said though that Wind of Change is just fantastic and with it is twice as
good as it would be without it. If I had to choose just one piece of Hawkwind music to listen too for the
rest of time it would be this version of Wind of Change. It's a real pity that it doesn't feature on the DVD
or the Live 1990 CD (CD 2 reviewed elsewhere). I thought the idea of DVDs was more not less. The DVD
review doesn't mention the segued pieces (see the CD review). I have to say these are particularly strong.
Snake Dance has a great synth sequence which I would describe as Hawkwind's best use of the sequencer
and there's a great move into Night of the Hawks. That sequencer just keeps going right to the end
including the segued Seventh Star (relying on the name given in the CD review). The middle of Ejection
again features Bridget Wishart which descends into chaos before a crescendo back into Ejection. I would
admit the vocals aren't great but the whole thing hangs together very well if thatâ€™s possible with
something that is designed to sound like it's falling apart. The reggae-ish middle to Damnation Alley is
splendid as well with Bridget Wishart's "your secret's safe with me" vocal really helping - her best
contribution to the event. It's hard to believe this piece became The Camera That Could Lie. Simon House
sounds great throughout especially on the Golden Void and Wind of Change.
It's hard to explain the climatic Wind of Change. It is a thing of pure beauty. All the elements of the
original are there but more so. Strident chords from the keyboards, Chadwick's drumming echoing the
original as it should and proving as he does throughout the gig what a great drummer he is, stunning
violin, perfectly muted guitar, perfect, perfect, perfect. The only problem is that it's only about three
I'd give this video a straight ten if it wasn't for the embarrassing Back in the Box and the failure to sing
all the lines in the chorus of Ejection which leaves it a little bare (there's no "I've got to escape",
"Abandon this crate" etc).
19th October 2007: Julie, the blonde Hippy Ballerina dancer who features on the DVD, adds this:
The Bedrock gig was recorded at Central TV Studios, Nottingham. It was a difficult gig, largely due to
the lighting being "overlaid" after the gig, which was recorded on a plain white stage and backdrop,
having camermen underfoot focusing on my crotch and Kris's bosom was a source of constant irritation.
The audience were a bit cheesed off having being admitted into a Hawks gig and told in no uncertain terms
that it was a NO SMOKING environment. A studio full of straight heads does not a good atmosphere
make....Stil - as far as studio gigs go, it's a fair representation - albeit a little clinical and reserved.
Going by the name of Jane (or just J) these days, she is still dancing for the Assassins of Silence and Dr.
Hasbeen amongst others. Check out her website - it's a an undiscovered gem
Chronicle Of The Black Sword
Filmed at the Hammersmith Odeon on 3rd and 4th December 1985, during
Hawkwind's tour of the same name. The soundtrack is the same performance as was
released on the Live Chronicles album. Tracklist is: Song Of The Swords, The Sea
King, Master Of The Universe, Choose Your Masques, Needle Gun, Zarozinia, Lords
of Chaos, Brainstorm, Moonglum and Elric, Elric The Enchanter, Magnu and Horn of
Destiny. There are also a few narrations tucked in along the way. Extra tracks that
weren't on the Live Chronicles album are from the encore: Coded Languages, Born To
Go, Utopia and Levitation. A promo edit of Needle Gun is also included.
The band was Dave Brock, Alan Davey, Harvey Bainbridge, Huw Lloyd-Langton and Danny Thompson.
Also appearing are Tony Crerar, playing Elric, Kris Tait playing Zarozinia, and Michael Moorcock doing
the narrations. Moorcock comes across as a sadistic dentist...Elric is ludicrous, but Kris was excellent,
looking very fetching in a pink leotard!
There is at first what looks like a lot of annoying interference, consisting of white stippling against the dark
areas of the screen, such as you get when a VCR is not tracking properly...but it appears to be an
"effect". After a while it disappears anyway, and the thereafter the visual quality is pretty good. As for the
How to say this? This is Spinal Tap territory - terribly cheesey. Dave Brock plays the entire gig (except
for the encore) in a hooded black robe, a real Angel of Death. Staging a rendition of Michael Moorcock's
most escapist Eternal Chumpion stories probably doomed it from the start - but the whole thing is a hoot,
rather than being merely dire. Elric spends the whole time sporting attitudes with his sword (which is a bit
too short to drink souls if you ask me, and wouldn't be very balanced given the elongated pommel and
guard). He also spends a few minutes throwing himself around in a rather stiff-buttocked manner, which
is puzzling until you realise that he's miming riding a horse. And, oh yes, during Needle Gun he does his
best to look evil while seeming to whet his sword with a dagger. He nearly puts Dave Brock's eye out, but
the overall effect is comic, with Elric leering in overdone greasepaint waggling his bits of wood
ineffectually....which is not to denigrate Tony Crerar, really: it was an impossible brief.
The stage set is pretty good, consisting of a fabric backdrop and impressive lightshow. See the "Photos -
Gallery 4" page for a photograph and link to the lighting designer's website. Musically, it's great and I
won't attempt to describe the main part of the set since it is probably already familiar to most Hawkfans as
the Live Chronicles album. The encore is nearly up to the same standards, with Mr Moorcock restraining
his normal vocal style ("moaning and raving") on Coded Languages, which he duets with Harvey
Bainbridge. Born To Go is short and ragged - Utopia is decent and segues into a brief instrumental
Levitation. The DVD/video ends with the promo of Needle Gun and we're back to Elric and his sword
Overall: I ought to hate this, but I don't. It is cheesey, but the band play well, and everyone involved
carries it off with enough chutzpah to make it highly entertaining. Perhaps not in the way it was intended,
but this one's a must for hairy-arsed Hawkwind fans everywhere. 7/10.
Night Of The Hawks
A live show from the Gaumont theatre in Ipswich, on 9th March 1984.
Tracklist: Ghost Dance, Watching the Grass Grow, Dream Worker, Ejection,
Uncle Sam's On Mars, The Martian Disco Stomp, Brainstorm, Sonic Attack,
The Island, Brainstorm (again), Psi Power and Silver Machine. (There is also
a bonus track, Night of The Hawks.) Again, not the greatest
material....seems to be the Zones album out on the road.
Personnel: Dave Brock (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Harvey Bainbridge
(vocals, bass, synthesisers), Huw Lloyd Langton (vocals, lead guitar), Clive
Deamer (drums), Nik Turner (saxophone, flute, vocals), Dead Fred (violin,
keyboards). Nik fronts the band in prime "hippie's nightmare" mode, sporting
a partial mohican with one-piece bodysuit and black and white greasepaint,
which makes his face look like an igloo with an oversized letterbox. He also
has Dead Fred (ex-ICU) and Clive Deamer along with him, who weren't in
Hawkwind for long - a shame, as they're both good musicians (especially
Fred). The band is tight despite the presence of these two new members. The ICU influence extends to
the setlist too with Watching The Grass Grow being the 2nd number into the set.
The camera work is good, better than the Stonehenge video. We get plenty of close-ups of Nik and the
synth-laden intros to many of the songs (where nothing much is happening on stage) are usually
accompanied by slow motion replays of the light show. Sound quality is very clear, although somewhat
"clanky" - this may have been nothing to do with the filming but the bass register is mostly missing. Nik
does a lot of talking between songs and the number entitled "Martian Disco Stomp" is actually The Iron
Dream (from the Quark Strangeness & Charm album) with a lot of added Turner tomfoolery, verbal and
physical. This is followed by the first of two versions of Brainstorm, and fairly mundane it is too -
musically. A great visual spectacle though, with the camera angle moving back into the audience and
showing the band and front row with hands aloft silhouetted against white strobe lights.... The musical
highlight is the encore, Psi Power and Silver Machine, and the bonus track. Dave sings Psi Power and it
makes a refreshing change (although we are compelled to see the sight of N.Turner's black plastic
bin-liner -clad arse all the way through Huw's first guitar solo). Silver Machine unfortunately provides the
backdrop for a dancing competition wherein several misguided young persons come up onto the stage and
grind away foolishly.... It reminded me of one of those clips you see from mid-70's editions of Top Of
The Pops (invariably hosted by Tony Blackburn) and they had some daring "rock" group on, like
Mud....and the audience did what they thought was expected of them... Well, this *was* filmed in 1984.
The Night of the Hawks track, which is very faithful to the studio version, shows the band leaping about
on stage and enjoying themselves. Again, Dave sings, and wild frontman though Nik Turner is, he can't
hold a candle to Dave in terms of being a vocalist. This is actually the best thing here.
On the whole this is a very well put together document of what was (in my view) one of the worst
periods Hawkwind ever had. If you like the anarchic style of Hawkwind fronted by Nik Turner, as they
were in 1983-84, you will find this to be an excellent DVD. It doesn't do it for me, but the technical
quality of the filming makes it better than the Stonehenge DVD, while it's not as good a musical
performance as COTBS. 6/10
Love In Space
Just re-released in October 2003, for the
first time on DVD, comes this capture
of a live performance on the 1995 'Alien
4' tour. It was really the last time (as in
most recent) that Hawkwind mounted
one of their
Will we see its' like again?
Tracklist: Abducted, Death Trap,
Wastelands, Are You Losing Your
Mind, Photo Encounter, Blue Skin,
Sputnik Stan, Robot, Alien I Am,
Xenomorph, Vega, Love In Space,
Kapal, Elfin, Silver Machine,
Welcome To The Future and
(groan) Assassins of Allah. In fact,
it's the exact same recording as on
the Love In Space live double
album. And one nice thing about
this that there's more lead guitar
than usual from Dave - Sputnik
Stan and Love In Space showing
this off in particular.
The show starts with two Alien-
masked dancers as Ron Tree intones the spoken-word track Abducted. The wife, hearing this, groaned at
the naffness of it, not knowing this particular number. I said to her "you'd really groan if you could see the
screen." Ron appeared wearing on his head a contraption resembling a cross between a fishbowl and an
anglepoise lamp, which he discards as the band move swiftly into Death Trap. What Ron lacks in energy
(he's practically immobile) he makes up in oddity, being painted up like a latter-day Baron Samedi wearing
what looks like a rubber scrum cap and swimming goggles. Later on he comes out wearing what looks
like cheap antlers made out of tinsel. He does make a great wasted punk Elvis on Robot, though.
The sound quality is excellent and there are some video production values here, too: each track is heralded
by on-screen subtitles (which I don't like very much) and distance stage shots of the band are interspersed
with freeze-frames of dancers and elements of the lightshow. Best of all, though, are the close-ups on
stage, which are angled in such a way as to show what the stage is like as a working environment - rather
than the more usual face-on footage of individual band members.
The track Photo Encounter features a very good dance routine which skillfully represents astronauts
adjusting the controls of their spacecraft in a weightless environment. The two dancers (one male and one
female) stay on stage for Blue Skin and are joined by fire eaters (Kris of course, plus Wango Riley) - and
the shortcoings of this exercise are starting to become apparent. Unlike a lot of Hawkwind albums, Alien4
has a reasonably strong concept and story line to it. But the stage show, which could have tied it all
together so well, instead consists of a number of disparate elements - all Hawkwind trademarks to be sure
(costumed dancers, fire eaters, amazing cosmic lightshow) but the concept gets lost. And this DVD
generally spends far too much time lingering on the dancers - good though they are, they're meant to be
Going back to Ron, he cuts a fairly sorry dash in Alien I Am by coming out on stage dressed as the Alien
in question. The trouble is, he has to manoeuvre the microphone under his rubber mask in order to be able
to sing. And this makes the mask buckle now and then - the effect is more Woolworths than Wolf 457.
This is a classic case of the ambitions for the show outstripping the budget, an all too common occurence
with some of these elaborate efforts by Hawkwind. And given the general cheesiness of it all, we are in
some ways back in Chronicle Of The Black Sword territory. Ron does not help matters by throwing some
coquettish attitudes when the lyrics are going "I...have no emotion". This is not the time to start doing
impressions of Sebastian in Brideshead Revisited.
The pace picks up at the end, starting with Silver Machine. This seems to be the only part of the DVD
where footage from more than one gig is mixed in - Ron appears first as a Smack Bono, secondly as a
pudgier, camouflage-clad Richard Beckinsale gone to seed. The main set ends with Welcome To The
Future, and then (what else?) Assassins Of Allah is trotted out for the encore. However it's not the blanga
version but is actually Space Is Their Palestine, which I like even less than A of A, although it is rescued
by the "It Is Written..." section of the original version of Hassan-i-Sahba (this number has too many titles
as well as too many appearances at live gigs!). The dancers are prominent once more (after the closing
credits have rolled by), Kris and Wango are out there eating fire, the light show has all the stops pulled out,
and - it works better like this. Take the Alien 4 theme away and the incoherence of these elements ceases
to matter, it's just a great Hawkwind live experience - a real multimedia happening. You don't know what
to look at next.
Overall then, a mixed result. This is probably the most professionally produced Hawkwind DVD yet, but it
misses the spot in terms of video editing - I would have liked to see more Hawkwind and less dancing.
Most of what there is of Hawkwind focuses on Ron, never my favourite member of the band, and there is
something about his performance here which manages to combine lethargy with desperation. But the boy
can sing! Musically, it stands up alongside the Classic Rock DVD (it's less patchy than that one) and the
Chronicle Of The Black Sword DVD (which has better material) - it's only the visuals which I felt were
slightly disappointing. But as the soundtrack has been made available previously as the Love In Space
album, this DVD maybe would not be considered an essential purchase for those who own that. However,
as the original artwork to the album is said to be lost, it may not be reissued anytime soon - and so, if you
*don't* already have that album, this DVD *is* an essential purchase. For me this DVD doesn't have the
charm of Chronicle Of The Black Sword but neither does it plumb the occasional depths of the Classic
Rock or Night Of The Hawks efforts, either. So we'd better make this one a 7 out of 10, I think.
This one is a VHS video Hawkwind's
midnight (?) and dawn sets from June 20th
/ 21st, 1984, at the last ever Stonehenge
Free Festival. Tracklist: Stonehenge
Decoded, Ghost Dance, Watching The
Grass Grow, Utopia, Social Alliance, Uncle
Sams On Mars, Sonic Attack, The Right
Stuff, Dawn, In The Morning. (There is
another video of the same occasion, called
Stonehenge 84, which includes other bands