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Every Hawkfest has been different to those that preceded it, and this one turned out so in a number of ways,
some objective and some subjective... The first and most obvious difference was where it took place, on the
Isle of Wight.  As someone was to say over the course of the weekend, the IoW turned out to be the Land That
Time Forgot, which was lovely once you got there: but doing so necessitated taking the world's most expensive
ferry crossing (in terms of £ per mile).  Many of the fanbase had said in advance that this was likely to deter
their attendance, but in the event the numbers looked to be about normal for a Hawkfest, with approximately a
thousand loonies milling about in a field for three days.

The site, of course, has historic significance as the location of the 1970 Isle of Wight Pop Festival, attended by
400,000 people and being the last performance by Jimi Hendrix before his demise some three weeks later in
London.  An exhibition at the nearby Dimbola Gallery commemorated Jimi's appearance and the 1970 festival,
but all we saw of this was the handful of exhibits that were actually shown at the Hawkfest itself.  Which was a
double anniversary, marking exactly 40 years since the 1970 festival, and the culmination of Hawkwind's 40th
year.  Hawkwind famously played outside the gates of the 1970 festival in protest at the high ticket prices – in
retrospect a somewhat quixotic gesture, since large numbers of people had been able to see the bands for free
by the simple expedient of hiking up to the top of Afton Down, which from the festival site, has the aspect of a
long ridge overlooking the entire location.  I didn't climb up there to take the view, but it must have been a good
one.  Several times over the weekend, we spotted tiny stick figures on top of the hill, and these provided the
necessary scale to make you realise that the Down is much higher than it appears from below.  These days it
sports an electric fence and a golf course over the crest of the ridge, rather than the metal fences intended to
keep freeloading hippy scum out forty years ago.  This time the hippy scum were metaphorically inside the
fence, marshalled by the brave forces of Margaret, Rose and their ancillaries.  There was also lighthearted
speculation of another free protest gig at the borders of the site, with the comic prospect of Nik Turner and his
henchmen turning up to crash the party.  The reaction would have been interesting to behold, but the only
interlopers to show up over the course of the weekend were of quite a different breed.
Hawkfest 2010
Our first sight of our destination was muted by its layout parallel to the little country road that accessed the site.
A small yellow sign pointed out a right turn into a field, with a black-painted double decker bus serving as
barbican for the yellow-jacketed volunteer stewards.  We made the requested small donation for good causes
and received our bright green wristbands before driving slowly up the freshly-made driveway to where the
action was.  First impression was that the site was T-shaped, with parking and the fan's camping area forming
the left-hand stroke of the T, and another area to the right accommodating the bands and festival organisers.  
Where they met, at the top of the driveway, was a cluster of larger tents including the two stages and vendors.  
The entire site being on the lower slopes of a hill, it felt curiously open, without the intimacy provided by the
enclosed layout of the last Hawkfest near Honiton in 2008.  It also looked smaller scale, with fewer vendors
than last time out; but the main bases were all covered, with a large bar, a couple of cafes, t-shirt stall, bakery,
the splendidly non-vegetarian Malinkey's, the slightly shocking hog slaughter emporium, and of course the two
stages housed in capacious marquees.  Plus all the fun stuff for kiddies.
Beforehand, the word was that the festival had been
difficult to put on with various restrictions imposed as
part of the terms of the event licensing.  The first
noticeable thing was the need to park cars separately
from the camping area, which meant lugging tents
etc. uphill.  We found a good spot that turned out to
be across the way from Jollyhawker's portable Taj
Mahal of a tent -mine is an igloo by comparison- but
not before running into old friends Alan and Andrea in
the, er, car park.  This is one of the best things about
going to Hawkfest for my money.  It probably means
was housed, so there was plenty of lateral space and never any delay in getting served - there seemed always
to be at least three or four bar staff ready to serve up Hawkwind Ale, lager and draft cider and whatever else
they had.  Prices were reasonable, with a small surcharge over what you would pay in a pub (£3.50 a pint).  
The other end of the tent provided a sound system and a large flatscreen that showed the lineup of bands on
The first band we caught, sometime in the afternoon or early Friday evening on the main stage was
Nanobots.  I had missed their appearance at the 2008 Hawkfest, but enjoyed their lighthearted schtick this
time around: they are a male / female duo who dress in white boilersuits topped by strange headpieces
adorned with coloured lights, and oversized novelty plastic sunglasses.  Both band members thrash distorted
guitars over a musical backing of uptempo electropop with a sprinkling of funny noises.  They garnered an
audience of forty or fifty in the big tent, and proved a good musical introduction to the weekend (though they
weren't the first to play, I think).  Another band of note followed them on the main stage on Friday -
Tarantism, whom I did not see, as being a known quantity from previous fests...they must by now be familiar
to most fans and offer a more organic alternative to the bludgeoning space rock that seemed to be the
prevailing motif of this year's lineup.  Some folks I talked to afterwards were appreciative of Tarantism’s
performance and mentioned their guitar player in particular as having gone mental during their set.  Well, I
wish I had seen that. :-)

Tarantism, of course, are fronted by Mel Rogers, who did her usual superb job of stage management in the
big tent, all weekend.  I can only imagine the difficulty of moving so many bands on and off stage over the
course of three days, with all their backline equipment, while trying to stick to a pre-established running order
and timetable.  Mel not only tried, but succeeded.  This is one of those things that is so easy for us the fans to
take for granted, because when it all goes smoothly you just don't think about it.  It has to be a pig of a job
and a massive thumbs up to Mel for her hard work and dedication.  But as if playing with her band and
facilitating all the others wasn't enough, she also runs something called Gig Club in Northampton (I think),
which fosters and encourages young bands to get out and play.  A number of them performed at the
Hawkfest this year - Welcome To The Machine, Gravity Junkie, Roundhouse, and The Project, I am told.  I
think Welcome To The Machine were the ones we saw, first band on the main stage on Saturday afternoon,
and they were astonishing.  From inside my igloo, I could hear the surprising sound of a band starting their
set with a cover of Siberian Khatru, the ten minute tour de force that closed out Yes's amazing Close To The
Edge album.  This was enough to make us hotfoot it down to the main stage, and I was gobsmacked to find
that the band playing this demanding material was a trio of young men who all looked to be about 14 years
old.  (Sorry 'bout that lads, but I am 50 myself...jealous of your youth and talent, y'see...)  They went on to
cover some Genesis ("Supper's Ready") and Rush ("La Villa Strangiata") numbers with aplomb.  The
musicianship was fully up to the demands of the material, but the vocals are not quite there yet, or at least
weren't on Siberian Khatru - not that many vocalists could carry off what Jon Anderson does, and I hope this
minor criticism doesn't put them off at all.  To see such high ambition matched by exalted attainment in a
band so young is really something special.
the stages each day...though I am hazy about that, and
didn't make a huge amount of effort to catch many of
the acts that appeared.  Anyway, there was plenty of
room in the middle of the tent where a few tables and
chairs were set up, and we spent a pleasant hour or two
enjoying the beer and the company of Simon, Wilfried
and Anke.  At various times over the weekend we took
our drinks out into the middle of the grassy area ringed
by the vendors and the stages.  A couple of flatbed
trailers had been set up there to provide some seating
for those who like to drink al fresco (and smoke...)
Below: a vegetarian cafe.  No brown food here :-)
However I have got ahead of myself in that Friday
night culminated (for us) in the headlining appearance
of Here & Now on the main stage.  I have long had a
place in my heart for this band, whom I first saw on
the free UK tour in 1978.  In those days they were a
hippy / punk crossover of driving, forceful rock
embellished with glissando guitar solos, bubbling
synths and anarchic female backing vocals, and the
band were best known at the time for backing Daevid
Allen on the fabulous 'Planet Gong' album.  (Still in my
top ten, at any rate.)  They've had an on-off existence
since then, punctuated by a couple of disappointments
like the UFOasis album, where their trademark cosmic
punk had been blanded out into a slightly reggaefied
wash of festy vibes.  I also went to see them in 1995
or thereabouts at a place called the Amersham Arms in
New Cross, and came away thinking it was a bunch of
imposters playing under the Here & Now name.  KifKif

Le Batteur was then the only original member in the
lineup, but in recent years the band has revolved around
more to me since it's the only time I get to be part of
the hairy-arsed community in a given year, and I will
no doubt forget to namecheck everyone we chatted
with, so my apologies in advance. But it was doubly
grand to see so many great people.  There is a
particular reason for this, in that I brought the lovely
Mrs. Starfarer to the festival (her first Hawkwind
experience) having previously done them as an
all-male bacchanalian uproar, to paraphrase an old gig
review's characterisation of the Hawkwind audience.I
had prepared the ground with my usual
uncomplimentary (but affectionate) description of the
types of nutter, freak and lunatic that she was likely
to encounter...in the event, she thought *everyone*
she met was great.  And so you all are, really.

We took a wander around the centre of the site,
which didn't take long.  First port of call was the
Planet Rock bar, which was very well organised.  
The counter ran
the full depth of the tent in which it
the original nucleus of guitarist Steffy Sharpstrings and Keef LeMissile Bass, as I think they were once
monikered.  Mr. Sharpstrings has since departed the fold, leaving Keith on bass to anchor the band, providing
continuity and authenticity.  But Here & Now in 2010 do not have the whiff of artifice that you often get
when only a single member survives of the original lineup.  Most of their material was newer than the stuff I
know, but they pulled 'Allez Ali Baba' out of the hat, and most splendidly of all 'Opium for the People', which
induced much singing along...by me, but it was fortunately inaudible.  Here & Now were also playing on
borrowed equipment as most of their stuff had been stolen the day before they set out.  Here's hoping it will
be recovered, of course, and I'd like to say they did superbly despite this appalling setback.
After seeing the young band covering progressive rock classics early on Saturday, we decided to go offsite
for a couple of hours and found our way to the hyperbolically named "Needles Pleasure Park", which
conjured up visions of used syringes and other dingy divertissements, but actually turned out to be mostly
shops selling ice cream, seaside rock and tasteless mementoes.  This was only 3 or 4 miles from the
festival site as the crow flies, and the main feature of the 'park' turned out to be a chair lift over the cliffs
and down to a pebbly beach which presented a vista of the Needles themselves (though they're best seen
from the seaward approaches).  Who should we run into there but Dave and Cheryl, themselves taking a
couple of hours off from their official duties onsite.  Mr. & Mrs. Laminator, as I shall hereafter refer to
them as, sat and chatted with us on the beach while innocent families steered a wide berth around my
disreputable denim jacket, which is mostly covered with Hawkwind badges and patches.  Despite this
omnipresent reminder of why we were there at all, the conversation was completely off-topic - it does help
to escape the intensity of the occasion, sometimes.  We and they left separately, and I exhibited my
navigational skills by driving off in the wrong direction and going through Freshwater before a side road led
us through some excellent bucolic surroundings back towards, er, civilization.  As we were now
approaching the festival site head-on, we got a great view of it spread out across the distant hillside from a
couple of miles away.

In fact there were some lovely views from the festival site itself, looking back the same way, with the
Solent a narrow strip of blue water separating us from the green coast of England and the New Forest
beyond.  In the evenings the sunsets over the sea were spectacular, with the chalk headland leading to the
Needles in the middle distance.  But shifting the focus nearer at hand, there were some horrible sights to be
seen in some of the portaloos (at least there were enough of them to be able to find clean alternative stalls)
and one had a sign pinned to the door, saying "If you did this, you will be evicted!"  Also, there was the
curious provision of urinals for the boys, consisting of hay bales massed into a piss-soaked ziggurat.  We
were wondering how these would be disposed of (the stench of them being burned can only be imagined)
and someone pointed out that if the farmer who owns the land was a vegetarian, he could exact a poignant
revenge on us meat-eaters by putting them out for cattle feed.  Think about that the next time you eat a
hamburger. :-O
We heard a band doing some highly competent blues-based good-time rock, which I afterwards figured out
would have been Dick Taylor and The Hillmans.  This is the Dick Taylor who produced and played on
Hawkwind's debut album forty years ago, though he is of course better known as having been one of the
Pretty Things.  It was the sort of music one would be happy to go and enjoy in a pub, but there was
drinking to be done and other preparations to be made for the other bands that were coming on later.  The
first of these that we caught was Mr.Quimby's Beard, who reunited specially for the occasion, and seemed
unchanged from the last time I saw them at the first couple of Hawkfests.  Except for being visually older,
greyer, and in the lead vocalist's case, balder, though I am sure this is by design on his part.  They must
have rehearsed hard because they were as tight as a gnat's chuff (if I can apply a Lancastrian term to these
Mackems) and like Here & Now the night before, I thought this was the definitive space-rock sound of the
entire weekend: powerful unison riffs that undulate steadily, the drums - guitar - bass core only intermittently
contrasted with Hardy's keyboards and occasional ventures afield by the lead guitarist.  Who did conjure up
the outstanding guitar tone of the whole weekend on one number, his Strat welling up a warm, bell-like clean
sound quite at odds with everything else the band were doing.
After MQB, we stuck around for Girlschool, the biggest name to be playing at the festival other than
Hawkwind themselves.  The ladies would all be around my age, but retain a far younger and sexier visual
appeal in tight black leather and full-on rock chick hair and makeup.  However they cut the mustard
musically, turning in a polished set of
commercial-edged hard rock which made you
wonder why they never attained more success than
was the case.  Perhaps there was a lack of
differentiation between numbers in their set, but this
could be said of most or all of the bands that played,
to be honest.  Here, it was a strength that they come
from a different genre that isn't space rock, and
they fully deserved the 'special guests' slot of
playing just before Hawkwind on the main stage,
Saturday night.
I say 'just before', but actually the main stage was closed for an hour to set up for the headliners.  The fans
started gathering in the twilight gloom well before the appointed time, and we could still hear the band
soundchecking or whatever as 9 o'clock came and went.   Proceedings got under way about a quarter past
nine, the set opening with Blood of the Earth followed by a muscular 'Lord of Light'.  On stage were (going
from right to left) Tim Blake, Dave Brock, Richard Chadwick, Mr.Dibs and Niall Hone…as at the 2007
Hawkfest, they seemed to be in a no-nonsense mood, with no special guests on stage and getting straight
down to business.   I remember thinking, 'they can't miss...playing to their hometown crowd', and the
reception for each number they played was tumultuous.  But having spoken to several people afterwards, I
seem to be in an absolute minority of one in thinking that the set as a whole fell short of expectations.  It
wasn't what they played -the set list was excellent, very much to my taste- or the way that they played.  
Each number taken in isolation was a knock-down, take-no-prisoners slam-dunk.  But the dynamics felt
wrong - there were too many interruptions, with a Tim Blake vocal intercession after the third number to
urge us all to thank everyone who was crewing the festival, another pause later for Kris to do something
similar, plus some slow numbers along the way to disrupt the overall tempo.  However, this seems to be
subjective on my part and I'm sure part of it was the fact that I was the whole time trying to envisage how
this was coming across to my wife, it being her first time seeing Hawkwind live, and knowing how much
they mean to me.  I need not have worried, her comment afterwards was "I was surprised by how
aggressive they were, I wasn't really expecting that from an older band like they are."  In fact, this was in
some respects the most brutal, hard-hitting Hawkwind performance I have seen.  Expecting them to sound
similar to the live material on the 2CD version of Blood of the Earth, where I described Angels of Death as
having a ropey jam in the middle, here it was completely different, going into a thudding techno breakdown.  
And this was surpassed by a version of Hassan-i-Sahba where the techno beats completely took over,
launching an all-out machine-driven assault on the senses and the brain.  It seemed to last an age, but the
mind-bending intensity of it definitely induced some temporal distortion.

Visually, dancers Steff and Laura performed terrifically and the more I see them, the better I notice they
are.  The interpretive movements and complementary costumes really do add something where I have found
previous dancers to be silly, misguided or embarrassing.  I particularly like the war-of-the-worlds motif in
one song, where they are on stilts, wearing masks to which thick black dreadlocks are attached, and
moving with tai-chi slowness delivering arachnoid evocations at every turn.  The lightshow, too, was
excellent, with pinks and greens predominating, and fractal spirals of colour being projected onto the striped
tent canvas behind the band.  Earlier in the day I had probably managed to insult and mystify Marie of
Chaos Illumination, in equal measure, when I stopped to say hello to her.  I had actually been laboring under
the misapprehension that someone else had been doing the lights for the last couple of years, and
commented that I thought them not quite as good as they had been prior to that.  Tonight was a case in
point for the reason why - playing in a tent, with no white backdrop behind the band, the full effect of the
projections could never be realised.   It seems the venues that Hawkwind play often compromise the
lightshow in such a fashion.  So, sorry to Marie, Neil and John!
Front stage, Dave was playing his Les Paul, and by dint of having Tim Blake to his left (our right), was
located more towards the middle of the stage, and had no music stand in front of him to obscure the sight
of a man in his 70th year crushing all before him.  However once again I would probably give the musical
honours to Mr.Dibs, who turned in a faultless, bravura performance. Being a bass player myself I am no
doubt biased, but on much of the older material, he has nailed what it is that the bass is supposed to do
without slavishly copying the parts laid down by his predecessors.  Niall added to the general heaviness
when he played on second bass, and his lead guitar contributions are always distinctive, but for me he took
a lower-profile role this time around, as did Tim Blake, apart from the two of his own numbers in the set;
Tide of the Century and Song for a New Age.  (Wot, no Inner Visions?).  Most of the new album got
played, and in a gargantuan performance that ran to over two and a half hours, a few real surprises popped
up, namely Brainstorm and Kings of Speed, which closed out the main set.   This was a stripped down
version by comparison to the studio original, but admirably suited to the blasting, pulverising sound and
cohesion that the band mustered for this homecoming gig.  For an encore, we got the massed
pneumatic-drills-on-steroids of Hassan-i-Sahba, and finally, everyone's new old favourite, You'd Better
Believe It.  This was the point of the whole thing, perhaps: Hawkwind may have been around for 40 years,
the Captain may be almost a septuagenarian, but they still rock like a bastard.  You'd better believe it.

After Hawkwind's set, I usually find it pointless to see any other band's, and so we only heard Krankschaft's
abbreviated appearance (12.15 to 1.00am) from a distance.  I vaguely recall a beefed up Areospaceage
Inferno (I think) and noting sleepily that they haven't the thin reedy live sound one might once have
expected of a duo relying heavily on electronics.  Although the cacophony of hearing that simultaneously
with the other band (AOS3?) who were on the second stage at the same time was vile :-/
Sunday morning brought overcast skies and a freshening breeze from offshore.  Not knowing the day's
schedule, we had arranged to go and have lunch in a country pub with Mr. & Mrs. Laminator.  On our
return I managed to miss Question Time completely...the stuff that gets asked does not seem to change
very much, and I can never hear Kris's replies in particular, so I wasn't unduly annoyed by this.  But the
next act in the big circus tent was the previously clownish Starfighters.  What a revelation!  Gone are the
superannuated hippy guitarist (who was pretty good, actually) and the comic / alarming Dr.Maya on
vocals.  They are replaced by two guitarists and a young woman on keyboards.  This has transformed the
Starfighters' loose, shambolic quality into something altogether tighter and brighter.  They garnered an
appropriately good crowd and warm reception as a result.

Somewhen around this time we were enjoying a drink sitting on the tractor trailer, and fell into conversation
with a normal-looking couple with their two young kids in tow.  They turned about to be locals from
Ventnor who had got in with a press pass -I think the husband writes the Ventnor Blog- and we were
asking them about the local perspective on the festival being held at all, and what they thought of it now
they were there.  They definitely fell into the 90% of islanders whom Kris had described as being great,
rather than the 10% likened to the least favoured portion of the human anatomy ("...man...").  The chat
turned to the more mundane aspects of living on the island, and what it's like there in the winter, what
people do for a living, etc..  For my part I was consciously playing up the normalcy of what they might
consider a typical Hawkwind fan, as I had already been singled out by another couple of locals with
serious-looking cameras slung round their necks, who wanted to take photos of me to add to their private
freak's gallery.  It was the jacket that drew their attention, and then they got some photos of my tattoos and
beer gut.  If this evidence subsequently surfaces to sabotage planning permission for any future Hawkfest, I
will...go on a diet.

Tribe of Cro were a more serious proposition, and it may be just my imagination, but Niall seems to loom
larger within the band on account of his elevation into
the ranks of Hawkwind.  Here he was positioned more
centrally, somewhat off the right and from the angle
where I was standing the rest of the band seemed to
be grouped to the left.  But there was no audible
separation.  Tribe of Cro have always been superior to
most of the other acts that have played at Hawkfests,
and they were here too, with perhaps a soupier

complexity to their sound than before.  But the next
band on, TOSH, were
transformed from the last
time I saw them at
Porchester Hall in August
2009.  Fronted by Steve
Bemand, they were brash,
loud and right on the
money...Keith Barton,
JimDread, Richard
Chadwick and Mr.Dibs

were also in the lineup,
making for a guitar-heavy
assault, and highlights of the
set were Born To Go, You
Shouldn't Do That, and the couple of numbers where
Huwie and then Captain joined in, starting with Hurry
On Sundown. At which point it was basically
another Hawkwind performance, with Keith and
JimDread stepping back to save us from having five guitars on stage.  As always the participation of Dave
Brock elevates proceedings by a couple of notches, but after he went off, Huwie stayed on and TOSH's set
climaxed with Orgone Accumulator.  They were excellent.

For us, the festival closed out with the Lloyd Langton Band.  Huwie's burgeoning re-emergence is a
wonderful thing to behold.  As well as a new young band, he's got a new album out, and presumably a lot of
it was featured in the set - but it still contained plenty of familiar numbers, and kicked off with 'Waiting for
Tomorrow'.  Huw's playing is qualitatively different from the guitar hero stuff he was doing with Hawkwind
30 years ago - there are fewer notes, with those he does play being sustained for longer. However this is
taking place in the context of a very energetic band and they collectively turned in a rousing performance.  A
bit too rousing in the case of the bassist, who plays about twice as many notes as he perhaps should. The
pumped-up pacing of the songs is great, but to my ears it sometimes sounded pretty odd with Huw's
minimalist, almost ambient lead guitar being underpinned by a thrashing rhythm section, as on 'Moonglum'.  
Still, they ensured proceedings ended on a musical high and we went to bed deeply satisfied with a great
weekend's music still ringing in our ears.

That was it, then, and nobody wanted to leave on Monday morning, with clear skies and a gentle breeze
really setting off the views of the Solent, dotted with white sails and the forested expanse of the mainland
beyond.  Estimating how 'good' a particular Hawkfest has been always founders on difficulties of
comparison, but this had been a huge amount of fun. What the site lacked in terms of layout it gained in
historic associations, and musically this was the best
yet, with some seriously good bands raising the bar
on who else plays other than Hawkwind themselves.  
The fans had been their usual weird and wonderful
selves, and as always the organisation and security
were brilliant.  Hello and thanks to Kris, Kevin,
Russell, Tim, Margaret, Rose, Alan, Ali, Dazzy,
Julian, Jimski and everyone else I've forgotton to
mention who made it such a great weekend.  I'm
especially grateful to Mr. & Mrs. Laminator for not
mentioning the fact that the lovely Mrs.Starfarer and
I were there on our honeymoon, which would have
made a good stage announcement, but not the sort of
thing you want to read about in the Ventnor Blog,
really.  Especially if any of those photos come to light.
And now a review from someone less cloth-eared than me...

Ali's Review

The format of the festival worked well once again. I arrived with a couple of friends and my brother, none
being Hawkwind fans as such but almost all having seen Hawkwind at one time or another over the years.  
Only my brother's girlfriend was a total virgin so I was keen that Hawkwind would impress her. They didn't
disappoint.

Hawkwind did a storming set on Saturday night. It definitely felt like the best Hawkwind set of all of the
Hawkfests I've been to. Everything, the lights, dancers, music just seemed to come together. The lights were
quite primitive, just projections, a few coloured lights and strobes.But the strobes were on a lot which, in
combination with the projections created the impression of being in some kind of weird flying marquee. In
such an intense atmosphere the projections often take on a rather strange aspect which they probably
wouldn't if you just watched them on their own. When they did Angels of Death everything went red and
black and they projected these dancing skeletons onto the back of the marquee.

The middle section of the song was a total repetitive red/black stroboscopic mindfuck that went on for ages.
It was pure wall-of-sound Hawkwind, everything that you want from them. Niall Hone's guitar makes a huge
difference and I don't know who's guitar it is but they have this deep, almost death metal drone sound now
which sounds brilliant. The band look like they are on top form at the moment and I really like this line-up.
The current dancers are perfect and I hope they stick around for a while. They are beautiful women and their
excellent costumes and alien movements fit right in with the music and the lights. Personal highlights for me
were Angels of Death which was by far the best I've ever heard them play, Fahrenheit 451 especially the
middle section, and Angela Android which is a song I usually dislike but had me dancing my ass off and
really getting into it. I am going to appropriate all of the credit for kicking off the traditional pre-encore
Hawkwind...Hawkwind chant for this gig. I took my inspiration from The Church, a song which sends
shivers down my spine when I hear the recorded crowd chanting below the fat synth notes and call to
prayer. There was no way I was going to let a fortieth anniversary go without that ritual so, my emotions
heightened, I intuited the right moment to begin and a couple of hundred others followed. Afterwards I
caught Steve Starfarer in the Amsterdam coffee shop tent and asked him what he thought fully expecting him
to gush. Instead he grumbled about this and that and I walked off thinking "Fuckin' hell...what planet have I
just been on?"
[Told you I was in a minority of one] Obviously different people's versions of events like this
are subjective and I think I must have been in a receptive frame of mind for a good gig while Steve probably
had a bit of indigestion or something.

After Hawkwind we bopped like mad to AOS3 who were a fast punky festival ska band, like Culture Shock
used to be. We had such a good time on Saturday night. My brother was pissed as a fart and after the final
tequila shots dosed out in some Rimbaud style caravanserai tent his holy spirit descended and he was
speaking to us in tongues. Free-festival supremos Here and Now did a good set on the Friday night and I was
really glad they came. It would be hard to find an old name like that more suitable for the Hawkfest. They
played all of the familiar tunes and I danced my ass off to that long repetitive bass song which I can't
remember the name of but it was one of the peak tunes of the festival for me. Headjam were another
excellent punk/ska band to dance to afterwards. Mr Quimby's Beard were good but not as intense as I would
have liked. I want them to do Journey As One. Tribe of Cro were pretty good, drew quite a big crowd, and
reminded me of Guru Guru. Gaia caught me by surprise, as being the last to play I was expecting some kind
of dance band. Instead we were greeted by what looked from a distance like a fisherman on a stool with an
acoustic guitar but gradually they became a very impressive, very high-quality
Radiohead/Psychedelic/Krautrock sounding band. Their hypnotic journey flow and their battered by Barnsley
philosophy has sown a little seed in me and they are the band that I'll take away with me from this Hawkfest.
I'm just glad I managed to prise their give-away Soulwind CD from my brother's fingers.

My only regret over the weekend was missing the question time thing because I forgot about it and went off
site to search for a new air-bed after giving up on the never ending duct tape to patch a hole at 3am the
night before. Also missing Girlschool who sounded really good from the tent while I mentally prepared for
Hawkwind.

It's hard to compare Hawkfests. I've enjoyed every single one and I don't really have a favourite. But the
Hawkwind set and the quality of the bands in general were really good for this one. I think of the Hawkfest
as an approach to Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous Zone idea.  With all the hoops that the organisers
must have to jump through in contemporary Britain it's never going to be a Pirate Utopia. But once all of
those obstacles are overcome we do get a weekend with a real authentic sense of space to celebrate and
towards the end of the festival I always feel a bit of a bond to people I barely know. For me it's probably my
favourite event of the year and it's always quite sad to leave. Some of my friends felt the Hawkfest vibe and
have said they want to go again.

-Ali

More reviews wanted!  Email me here if you'd like to add your recollection.