|Hawkwind, UFO and a time-warp
From the 30th June 1973 issue of the Melody Maker. Below: the line-up of Hawkwind # 6, which lasted
from August to November 1973. The only difference between this line-up and the one that played the gig
reviewed hereunder was the presence of Dik Mik
The Queen's Hall, Leeds, is a vast aircraft-hangar of a place where they stage ideal home exhibitions and the
like, the wrong side of the tracks at the end of a street of warehouses. The vibrations are not what you
could call good.
As I walked in at the beginning of what was planned to be an all-night festival of progressive music, I
looked up at the huge emptiness of the girdered roof, and at the two thousand or so bodies sprawled on the
floor and I was frankly terrified. This was a situation perfectly suited to the creation of paranoia.
Actually the reality was a lot different by the time I'd left, with the dawn flooding the smoky streets of the
city with light, I and about 5,000 others had experienced the nearest thing I can remember to those heady
mid-sixties days of the "24 Hour Technicolour Dream" at the Ally Pally and UFO at the Shamrock Club,
Tottenham Court Road.
An interesting thought, since I'd guess that the majority of the audience were barely into teenybopperdom
back then. Another interesting point is that, for much of the time, these kids seemed to be getting off on the
music, while as we know, back in the 1960s music was just one of the things we tuned into, and not
always the most important, if the truth be known.
The music was mostly good. Sandgate opened, and they were much more together than the last time I
heard them, even if some of their comic bits got lost at the back of the hall, and the p.a. wasn't really
adequate - something they're going to have to deal with, and fast. I haven't been to one of their gigs yet
when I've really been able to hear them properly.
I'd feared that Peter Hamill, singing solo with a piano, would find them hard to follow, but quickly I realised
another important thing about these kids: they had come determined to enjoy themselves, and so they did.
And if a band didn't give them exactly what they wanted, they didn't get uptight and start throwing things,
they took what they could out of the performance and grooved on that, letting the rest of it wash over them.
For me, the experience of the evening was Jack the Lad, who played a light, rocking, rather acoustic set
that reminded me of the Byrds on a good night. Most of the vocals were taken by Billy Mitchell who also
duetted very nicely on mandolins with Si Cowe at times. A high point was when Rod Clements joined them
on fiddle to create a real folkie sound. They did one Lindisfarne tune, "Going Down the Road to Kingdom
Come," and managed to get away with a superbly simple rendition of "I Saw Her Standing There" which
showed where their rock roots are.
Then came Hawkwind, who I've got to admit are a phenomenon I don't entirely understand, but there was
no mistaking the place they had in the audience's heart. It was one of the most incredible things I have ever
seen: as they played their opening number, the people at the front stood up. The people behind them stood
up as well, and it was like a wave rushing back towards the wall where I was standing, as row upon row of
them stood up, one after the other, like the formation dancers in a Busby Berkeley musical, in a movement
so fluid it looked as if it had been rehearsed for weeks, until the entire audience was on its feet.
To me, there was nothing that Hawkwind did that I hadn't heard back in those UFO days, except not so
loud. I've felt for quite a while that we were due for a revival of flower power, though without the flowers,
and this experience seems to show I'm right.