|More Gig Recollections
The Musings Occasioned Thereby
For someone as into Hawkwind as I am, I haven't actually seen them live very often. The tally stands at 14
times, I think, and obviously I hope to add to that - but right now I don't know where my next Hawkwind
gig is coming from!
Anyway, the ones I have seen are as follows:
1: October 4th 1977, Southampton Gaumont
2: October 16th 1978, Portsmouth Guildhall
3: November 26th 1979, Southampton Gaumont
4: July 20th 1980, London Lyceum
5: November 3rd 1980, Hammersmith Odeon
6: June 22nd 1982, Stonehenge Free Festival
7: June 7th 1997, Blackheath Concert Halls
8: October 21st 2000, Brixton Academy
9: March 29th 2001, Croydon Fairfield Halls
10: April 1st 2001, Aldershot Princes Hall
11: August 18th 2001, Canterbury Sound Festival
12: July 18th 2002, Hastings Pier
13: July 20th 2002, Hawkfest, Beer, Devon
14: August 9th 2003, Hawkfest, St.Michaels On Wyre, Lancs.
Some of these I have already written about in detail, and I will attempt not to repeat myself...
October 4th 1977, Southampton Gaumont
I wrote about this, my first live Hawkwind experience, in a piece which can be found on the Hawkwind
Museum website, at this URL:
What I didn't mention in that article was that the band was the classic Quark line-up, i.e. Bob Calvert, Dave
Brock, Adrian Shaw, Simon House and Simon King. That band and the material they produced still stands
out for me, as musically the strongest version of Hawkwind there has been. They may not have been as
potent as in Space Ritual days, nor as raw, but it was nonetheless an incredible gig. It wasn't the first big
proper rock concert I'd been to, but I suspect the fact that I recall this as still the best gig I've been to is
something to do with the fact that it was the first time I'd seen Hawkwind live.
In some ways, this devalued the experience. I had no idea at the time how lucky I was to be seeing the band
playing in front of the Atomhenge stage setup, and to see the Tree/City lightshow sequence devised by Liquid
Len. And ever since his premature death in 1988, it's become apparent to
me how fortunate I am to have seen Bob Calvert perform live. He
dominated the show from the moment they came on stage, a mesmeric
figure in his khaki and olive green Lawrence of Arabia outfit, making long
slow overhead sweeps of his scimitar. This was not as menacing as Bob
probably intended: a Dervish doing T'ai Chi lacks something in the threat
department, but still, the image endures after more than a quarter of a
Around this time, I was seeing other bands of similar standing, for example
Black Sabbath on their 1976/77 World Tour (this was also at the Gaumont).
So although I was still wet behind the ears, I wasn't a complete beginner. But I remember the freshly printed
smell of the tour programme as I looked at the center spread while waiting for Hawkwind to come on. I
remember being impressed by the depth and power of the sound (how can this much energy be contained
within one room, even one the size of this?) - Sabbath were probably louder but hadn't the textural
complexity of Quark-era Hawkwind. As a result, the perception was of a thunderous quality which did not
crowd out any of the fine detail of the music. If I think of this in spatial terms, Sabbath emitted a wall of
sound: high, wide and only a couple of bricks deep. The sound of Hawkwind live was more like being close
to a solar prominence, with the sensation of a huge swell of energy blossoming out into the vacuum and
occupying three dimensions.
I already had the Quark album, and so could appreciate how exactly like it they sounded in a live setting...but
it's incomparably better when pumped out by several thousand watts' worth of amplification, with well over
a thousand like-minded people alongside, and best of all, the band themselves just yards away, in person.
This was something that seemed to engage all the senses (only two, actually - smelling, tasting and/or
touching the band would be overdoing it to my way of thinking!) and whatever intangible sixth sense we
mean when we talk about "atmosphere": the Gaumont was loaded with it that night. This began as a
collective sense of anticipation, an upwelling that you somehow know is shared by everyone else there. The
critical moment is always the very start of the set: how will the band harness the energy latent in the
audience? This is why I always liked to see Hawkwind start the set in some emphatic, explosive way: there
is no opportunity for the atmosphere to diminish. Hassan-i-Sahba opened the show at Southampton, and this
did the trick excellently, with the introductory little swirl of violin teasing the audience's feeling of anticipation
out a little further, before the blanga main riff punched in. And that's when you know this is going to be
good (I have subsequently learned!)
Having mentioned the Quark album, my subjective recollection is that the gig consisted of a live performance
of the songs from that album, along with a few older numbers. While there is no known setlist for this gig,
the following night at the Hammersmith Odeon they played the following set: Hassan-i-Sahba; Forge Of
Vulcan; Brainstorm; Steppenwolf; High Rise; Robot; Wind Of Change; Jack Of Shadows; Spirit Of The Age;
Sonic Attack; Damnation Alley; Uncle Sam's On Mars; Iron Dream; Reefer Madness; Master Of The
This does not bear out my subjective recollection at all. I can vouch for Hassan-i-Sahba of course, and for
the presence of Brainstorm, Wind of Change, Spirit of the Age and Master of the Universe: I recall this last
track as being included in a three-number encore, and it may be my memory playing tricks on me, but I
thought this is where Brainstorm appeared too. And if my memory is unreliable as regards the setlist,
perhaps it is on all the other aspects of the gig. I am sure I enjoyed it as much as I did because it was my
first time seeing Hawkwind, but I don't care if the subjective factors have completely warped my view of
what others may have experienced as a run-of-the-mill gig: to me, it was an experience of almost magical
intensity. For two hours, eighteen hundred people (it seemed to me) were held spellbound by the perfect
blend of power and beauty that is Hawkwind in full flight.
Ever since I have felt that true power in music comes from the quality of what is being performed, not the
forcefulness with which it is delivered (though we had both on this occasion). Hawkwind have this
elemental power in abundance, and the reason they make the best music there is in this world is that they
combine it with an ethereal beauty, mostly expressed through the upper layers of instrumentation such as
keyboards, violin, sometimes sax. No other band has such a perfect balance of these qualities.
October 16th 1978, Portsmouth Guildhall
'Twas a year later, I had a girlfriend (who came to the gig with me) and this promised to be a bit different -
the Hawklords, not Hawkwind, still Brock and Calvert but with new boys Harvey Bainbridge (bass), Martin
Griffin (drums) and Steve Swindells (keyboards) alongside. Portsmouth Guildhall was not a venue Iâ€™d
been to before (or since) and it wasn't as good as the Gaumont in Southampton - being one of those places
that is too wide relative to the depth of the hall from back to front. There were rows of plastic seating bolted
to the floor down at the front, and the whole place had a bit of a "convention centre" feeling to it.
We thought something was up when we got into the hall, as we could see only one band's equipment on
stage, not the support band's gear inside and within the main act's setup. The reason why became apparent
when the support act came on: acoustic punk Patrik Fitzgerald. This bloke had made something of a stir in
the national music press and did a well-received EP called Safety Pin Through My Heart. He was kind of a
prototype Billy Bragg, but without the Essex. In a later interview with the Melody Maker or the NME, Patrik
Fitzgerald was asked why he subjected himself to hostile crowds like Hawkwind's and Sham 69's. (I don't
recall his answer, but the real reason must have been something to do with earning a living!) Anyway, on
this occasion the crowd was robust but not hostile, and they were at least attentive. There was quite a bit of
heckling ("Tuck your shirt in!") which Patrik Fitzgerald was stage-smart enough to turn into a bit of stage-
audience banter. He had come on in a loose baggy shirt, clutching a bottle of beer and what looked like an
oversize acoustic guitar: probably just a dreadnought, but he was one of those little skinny punks, a bit
ratlike. I don't know his material but most songs sounded the same: a fast-paced acoustic rattle through
three minutes of unexceptional guitar chord progressions and inaudible street poetry. That sounds damning,
but he was all right - the songs were good, but the atmosphere wasnâ€™t there. Being unplugged, the
volume was very low, and this didn't raise the temperature in the way that a full-blown support band might
have done. I think he went off to some fairly decent applause.
The tension did build in the interval, which we were expecting to be short: without a support band's
equipment to be taken off the stage, hopefully Hawkwind would be out in ten minutes or so. It didn't work
out like that, and the wait seemed interminable. The venue's security were ensuring everyone stayed sitting
down, no standing allowed! At some point in the intermission, the house lights had come on and black
curtains had been pulled across the stage. Every now and then a head or a limb would poke out from behind
them, sometimes to be cheered in recognition by the boisterous souls down the front.
Finally, the house lights went off and the curtains drew back to reveal an almost completely darkened stage,
where a few people were moving to their assigned stations. A great roar went up from those down the
front, and everyone in the first six rows leapt out of their plastic seats and charged, converging on the front
of the stage. A tape of "Automation" (already known from the Hawklords album, which had been out for a
week or so) started, and the atmosphere began to build. This was almost spoiled by the laughable vocal
intervention over the P.A., asking everyone to please return to their seats and sit down. This was completely
ignored of course, and after that I think the venue gave up all attempts at further restraint.
So Automation ratcheted up, and right on cue, the gig blasted into life with perfect synchronization between
the stage lights and the opening power chords of '25 Years'. A perfect way to start a Hawkwind gig, and
yes, the volume was loud enough. Instant ecstasy was seen in the seething mass of people down at the
front, and before too long an entire row of six plastic seats was being passed to and fro, silhouetted against
the brightly lit stage. For all that descriptions of the Hawklords stage show mention a plethora of grey, it
was not a gloomy stage-set, though the band were far more colourful than the Metropolis-inspired backdrop
(and rather mawkish dancers). Harvey Bainbridge was not a sight we had beheld prior to this, and was here
dressed in a strange hooped one-piece jumpsuit. He seemed to be very long-limbed, beneath a puffball of
hair. Dr. Brock was white-coated and more or less staying in the background. Once again Bob Calvert was
the focus of our attention, but may not have been on such a high as the last time I'd seen him. At
Portsmouth he was part of the band rather than right out front.
This is another gig for which there is no known setlist, but the night before they'd played this at Croydon's
Fairfield Halls: Automation; 25 Years; High Rise; Death Trap; Micro Man; Spirit Of The Age; Urban Guerilla;
Sonic Attack; Psi Power; Brainstorm; Steppenwolf; Free Fall; Robot; Uncle Sam's On Mars; Iron Dream;
Master Of The Universe; Silver Machine.
It was not as punky a performance as those that can be heard on the Weird 4 or Hawklords Live CD's. We
did not know the new material all that well, and as mentioned earlier, the venue did not focus the energy
being generated onstage out to the audience: instead, it was being dispersed. This did not seem to matter to
the thrashing mob in front of the band, but was very much the impression I got from being a bit further
back. The band played a good'un, and this did enough to offset the lack of atmosphere, or rather, they
generated it themselves without help from the surroundings. Looking back I do not feel that the gig was a
patch on the previous year's, but on the night we went home well satisfied***. My girlfriend even went out
and bought her own copy of the album the following weekend. ***PS I shagged her on the train on the way
November 26th 1979, Southampton Gaumont
All the way through this tour, Hawkwind played a setlist of Shot Down In The Night; Motorway City; Spirit
Of The Age; Urban Guerilla; Prelude; Who's Gonna Win The War; World Of Tiers; New Jerusalem;
Lighthouse; Brainstorm; Phenomenon Of Luminosity; PXR5; Master Of The Universe; Silver Machine;
Levitation. It was an entirely different band to the Hawklords, with only Dave Brock and Harvey Bainbridge
remaining from that lineup: but we were reading the programme before Hawkwind came on and knew
exactly who we would be seeing. Huw Lloyd Langton's return was intriguing, and the text promised â
€œwith two guitars, the sound will be loose but strong".
That's how it panned out, although the band were not loose at all, locking in very tightly. This was also
another gig with an excellent sounding P.A.; we could hear both guitars, which together just stopped short
of dominating the mix. The band powered their way through what would subsequently become Live 79 and
Levitation material, with a handful of old favourites thrown in. At one point Brock peeled off a sharp little
solo, and this was one of the things that convinced me the musicianship had gone up from the year before.
Overall the feeling was of an effective and accomplished performance, that didn't quite recapture the heady
atmosphere of the 1977 gig.
For the record, the band this time consisted of Dave Brock (guitar), Huw Lloyd Langton (lead guitar),
Harvey Bainbridge (bass), Tim Blake (synth) and Simon King (drums). Tim was most noticeable on
Lighthouse, where his singing was different! The band did an excellent job of subtly rejoining this track,
aided by some excellent stage lighting which gradually opened the focus up from Tim at his keyboards to the
entire band. We told our friends who hadn't gone that they missed out.
July 20th 1980. London Lyceum
This I've written about on the Lyceum 1980 page. So far every Hawkwind gig I'd seen had been completely
different to the one before. This time the lineup was unchanged, would the band be the same?
The answer: no, it was different again. You could tell they weren't firing on all cylinders and as a result it
was in the category of good but not great. The setlist was Intro; Shot Down In The Night; Motorway City;
Urban Guerilla; Prelude; Who's Gonna Win The War; World Of Tiers; Dust Of Time; Space Chase;
Brainstorm. A lot of this material was still none too familiar, and from where I was in the hall, the stage
sound wasn't all that great. There was also quite a heavy atmosphere on account of the preponderance of
biker types, and the aggressive reaction to Out On Blue Six earlier in the proceedings. But the crowd seemed
to have been settled down by Inner City Unit's set. Which wasn't my cup of tea.
It was hot inside the Lyceum, with the red plush coverings failing to absorb the smells of patchouli, leather,
sweat, ganja smoke and testosterone. It was also packed out to capacity, and the Lyceum was not a small
venue: I felt as though they were over 2,000 people there. Not finding anywhere to sit, we stood all night
about halfway back and to the right-hand side of the hall. The atmosphere was thick enough to gouge with a
soup spoon. This is probably what induced the flushed-with-exertion feelings after the gig, usually a
physiological sign of great enjoyment, and saved a slightly hit-and-miss performance from descending into
being disappointing. The neophyte whom my girlfriend and I had taken to the gig professed herself
impressed...¦and I was satisfied, if not thrilled to the core of my being!
November 3rd 1980, Hammersmith Odeon
The first time I went alone. I was attending a residential 1-week course at a place called Hinchley Wood in
Outer London (well, Surrey actually). Managing to tear myself away from one evening of drinking with the
other course attendees, I tried to kill two birds with one stone by arranging to have dinner with my
grandparents. They were rather mystified that I tore off so quickly, almost as soon as I'd eaten...¦ Such are
the crimes of the young. It did mean that I missed Vardis, who were support, in their entirety. Later
someone assured me they'd been even better than Hawkwind but I did not believe him.
Getting to the Hammy just short of 9pm, I took my seat as Hawkwind were coming onstage. This is the
only time I ever went to that place, and it was cavernous...broad and deep. The crowd seemed suitably
stoked up and the band ran through Intro; Levitation; Motorway City; Death Trap; Shot Down In The Night;
Psychosis; 5th Second Of Forever; Dust Of Time; World Of Tiers; Urban Guerilla; Instrumental; Space
Chase; Prelude; Who's Gonna Win The War; Psi Power; Brainstorm; Silver Machine. By now I was more
or less on terms with the material and knew that Ginger Baker had joined in place of Simon King. Brock,
Bainbridge and Lloyd Langton were there from before but Tim Blake had gone, to be replaced by the
completely anonymous Keith Hale, of whom I remember nothing. Due to the way the Odeon was, the
atmosphere never really built beyond the crowd's sense of anticipation when I came in; but the band
maintained it at a steady pitch.
Right: The sight that
greeted us at the
Ginger's influence was pronounced in that he brought a busier style to Hawkwind:
not as streamlined as Simon King's, but with plenty of interventionist tendencies.
So many contacts with the skins of the tom-tomsâ€¦this was redeemed from being
bombast only by Ginger's skill and split-second timing. There was a sensation in
the audience of some shuffling of feet and half-articulated grumbles of "it ain't
right" during Ginger's drum solo in Brainstorm. But if you like drum solos, they
probably don't come much better than this one.
The stage lighting I remember as being predominantly in reds and oranges, and the
way the band sounded was more like the 1979 lineup I'd seen in Southampton a
year previously: again, they were muscular and efficient, with Dave Brock coming
out more, indeed standing at the front of the stage some of the time. Afterwards on
the tube from Hammersmith, someone got out a tape recorder and played back what they'd recorded inside
the Odeon. Lots of more melodious layers were apparent on the recording than I'd heard inside the hall. This
was one of the things that had me positively slavering for the release of the Levitation album (which I made
sure I got on the day it came out: Friday 5th December 1980).
June 20th 1982, Stonehenge Free Festival
So I can't remember why now, but Hawkwind and I were well on the way to going our separate ways by the
time I next saw them, at the Stonehenge Free Festival in 1982. I was living in Amesbury, just down the road
from Stonehenge at this time, and went to the festival most years. I've written about this on the Stonehenge
Free Festivals section of the Festival Zone website, which I heartily recommend. My testimony is to be
found on the 1976-77 page, the 1978-79 page (where I've unaccountably been promoted from a denim-clad
teenage dirtbag to "stage manager") and on the 1980-82 page
They played Psychedelic Warlords; Coded Languages; Angels Of Death; Magnu; Dust Of Time; Urban
Guerilla; Waiting For Tomorrow; Sonic Attack; Brainstorm; Right Stuff; Silver Machine; Master Of The
Universe; Shot Down In The Night. I'm quoting myself now, but this was the first time in three years that I
had managed to make it to the festival, and I noticed a difference. It was much bigger than before in terms of
the numbers of people there. I arrived as it was getting dark and there was a band playing on stage. The
music sounded familiar, and I asked someone who was playing: "Hawkwind", I was told, and replied "I was
afraid you were going to say that", as this had not the poise of previous live Hawkwind experiences (and I
was surprised to see them playing so early, at about 9pm) They were playing material from their 1981 album,
'Sonic Attack' and not very well, either. It was fast and ragged.
There was a short-haired bloke on stage with them, playing sax. I got a
bit of a shock when I realised it was Nik Turner, who surely ought to
be hairy and beardy when playing with Hawkwind, even if he did have
short hair with Inner City Unit. When the band came back onstage for
an encore, Nik was the first one out: his response to the chants of
'Hawkwind, Hawkwind' was to say 'I'm nothing to do with Hawkwind,
in fact, I'll have nothing to do with Hawkwind.'
Perhaps I was seeing this with a jaundiced eye. Some time around then,
some friends came over to my place and I rushed to hide the newest
Hawkwind album I'd bought - it was Church Of Hawkwind. They
found it of course, but the point is Hawkwind were becoming a guilty
pleasure (oh, the fickleness of youth). And in fact Church was the last
Hawkwind album I bought for the next four and a half years, led astray
as I was by the chimera of contemporary 80's acts like the Associates,
I mentioned not being caught up with album purchases, and when I went to this gig I had never heard the
Alien 4 album, nor did I know anything of Ron Tree and Jerry Richards. Ron put in quite an intense
performance, right in the centre of the stage, barechested and hunched forward over the microphone with
his Gibson Firebird bass hanging loose - I don't know how he managed to play it like that, but I heard
nothing wrong with his bass playing. His eyes seemed to bore into the audience, and I thought there was a
pleasingly nasty twist to his features...exactly what a rock star should be. Jerry stood further back and on
the left hand side of the stage, as seen by the audience - he seemed to have a dark and moody persona. His
guitar was some sort of superstrat, and it looked as though we might get some serious shredding: but in the
event his playing fit reasonably well into the Hawkwind canon.
This was certainly a hugely different version of Hawkwind, with a punky / thrashy edge to them and a set
composed of Intro; Assault & Battery; Golden Void; Blue Skin; Steppenwolf; Reptoid Vision; Hassan-i-
Sahba; Space Is Their; Hassan-i-Sahba; Wastelands; Alchemy; Love In Space; Aerospaceage Inferno; Sonic
Attack; Wheels; Brainstorm; Camera That Could Lie; Brainstorm; Ejection; Needle Gun. In other words, a
set composed of about 50% old material and 50% new stuff. I thought it broadly split along those lines for
being a mixture of brilliance and rubbish respectively: I've since come to appreciate the Alien 4 material as
something special, but on first hearing and at a gig as hit-and-miss as this one, it did not work for me. It
was rather like the Lyceum gig in July 1980 for being a slightly disjointed one-off performance rather than a
tight cohesive mid-tour gig: the fault here being equipment failure, in fact one of the monitors caught fire
midway through the set. The hall was quite intimate and the atmosphere was positive, with Kris before the
gig and Dave during it laughing and chatting with the crowd. There were a couple of dancers on stage, first
a lady of indeterminate years doing some belly dancing - to my untutored eye she looked as though sheâ€™d
been properly trained in it, and was doing proper belly dancing instead of generic lascivious jiggling (which I
would have enjoyed just as much.) The other dancer was a shapely young lady of crossover hippy/punk
credentials, in an electric blue wig. Huw came back on for the encore, this time with his white Gibson Les
Paul Custom and widdled away over the top of what the band were playing fairly effectively - though his
sound seemed to have changed from the glassy clarity of 1979-80 to a warmer, more middley tone. Huw did
not cut through all that well, as a result. Drummer Richard Chadwick completed the lineup, and I did not
particularly notice him, which should be taken as a compliment: he fitted in..
The Blackheath Concert Halls were normally used for performances of classical music and had a semi-
circular ceiling designed to project the sound outwards from the stage. It was thus very good acoustically,
although not well suited to the deluge of cheap beer spilt from plastic cups by the capacity crowd of 1,200
Hawkfans. The carpets underfoot were very sticky on the way out and there was typical gig debris
everywhere. It did not surprise me that that venue never staged another full-on rock concert thereafter.
There were a few dates played in the winter of 1999, one was at Croydon Fairfield Halls, within reach. But
this was before I'd delved all that deeply into Hawkwind on the internet, which has allowed me to meet many
more Hawkwind fans than I've known before. It would have had to have been another solo effort on my
part and knowing there would be a 30th anniversary reunion sometime soon, to which I could drag a number
of friends, I decided to wait for that.
From this point forward, I've already written a detailed review of each Hawkwind gig I've seen. Here are
links to those pages:
October 21st 2000, Brixton Academy
March 29th 2001, Croydon Fairfield Halls
April 1st 2001, Aldershot Princes Hall
August 18th 2001, Canterbury Sound Festival
July 18th 2002, Hastings Pier -and- July 20th 2002, Hawkfest, Beer, Devon
August 9th 2003, Hawkfest, St.Michaels On Wyre, Lancs.
They've generally been excellent live over these last few years, with only bad sound doing anything to reduce
the quality of the experience. Even what is a poor gig by Hawkwind's standards is going to give you a better
time than anything else you could be doing with your clothes on. By now, they know what theyâ€™re doing
on stage inside out, and it shows. Some of the gigs I've been to in recent years have been the best ones I've
seen since the 1970's, though lineup fluctuations continue. The main problem I have with seeing them play
live these days is that once again I'm living somewhere they don't play, and this year I don't think I will see
them live. DVD's are a reasonable substitute, but what we need is more Hawkfests, as they've been put on at
the right time of year (and with enough advance notice) to enable me and other overseas residents to get to
Assuming I do get to further gigs, they'll be reviewed in detail too, but this page might get updated again here
and there, probably as I dredge further half-remembered details up from the dim and distant past!
Echo and the Bunnymen and the Comsat Angels (who were very good until about 1985, when they abruptly
became rubbish, along with almost all other contemporary music!)
In 1986 one of my friends who'd laughed at me for owning Church of Hawkwind bought me the 'This Is
Hawkwind, Do Not Panic' album. This was enough to get me listening to Hawkwind again, and I picked up
Zones and Live Chronicles to bring me more-or-less up to date, and would haunt the record shops in San
Francisco (where I'd moved to) looking for Hawkwind titles. In this way I got to hear such albums as
Independent Days, Out & Intake and some of the unauthorized live recordings like Hawkwind 70-71. Not
being in touch with what was going on with the band, I didn't realize the extent to which these were archival
and not always authorized recordings. It seemed as though Hawkwind's official output and quality control
had gone through the floor - not helped by the fact that I'd unwittingly missed out on Choose Your Masques
and the Chronicle Of The Black Sword album, their best work from the 1980's.
And as I was living in San Francisco at a time when Hawkwind were not touring in North America, I got
completely out of the habit of seeing them live. It was very annoying though, when they played a gig at The
Stone, on Broadway in San Francisco in 1989, by by which time I was back in England, but not even in
possession of a stereo. I spotted an ad for their 20th anniversary gig that year at the Brixton Academy. I
mused upon the idea of going, but didn't. As I am 29 years old at this point in the narrative I can hardly blame
not going on the foibles of youth. It was Thatcherite Britain and I was probably worried about my career and
pension plans and stuff of that ilk.
From 1990 onwards I had my tiny offspring to be considered, and this precluded things like going out to see
bands more than very, very occasionally. Though as far as Hawkwind were concerned I did keep my hand in
with the odd album purchase, never allowing them to slip entirely out of sight: for every Xenon Codex there
was a Palace Springs, and I could see a definite upturn from what I'd perceived as their 1980's output. But at
this time my buying was patchy and I was usually lagging a few years behind what was their most current
stuff, and leaving gaps in my collection which I would later have to go back and fill.
June 7th 1997, Blackheath Concert Halls
OK, so by now I'm well out of it and am going to
see Hawkwind pretty much for old times' sake.
This is the last Hawkwind gig I go to on my own,
and all the subsequent ones have been much more
enjoyable for that reason alone. I did not get a
ticket in advance, intending to buy on the door.
When I got there, a bloke about ten years older
than me sold me a spare ticket that he had - the
crowd was a mixture of clean-cut older fans
from Hawkwind's 70â€™s heyday, and wild-eyed
twentysomethings almost completely covered in
hair, leather and official Hawkwind T-shirts;
despite the passage of years, the fanbase was as
the same as ever, and I think I even saw a lab
coat or two. I felt very amateurish and immature
for wearing a denim jacket when everyone else
was in black leather!
Huw Lloyd Langton played an acoustic set as
support, and at one point had a couple of friends
sitting in with him playing bongos and what-not.
It was all pretty low-key, and quite a contrast to
Huw's previous work with Hawkwind. I think
this may have been the first time Huw did his solo
acoustic stuff at a Hawkwind gig. The fans were
pleased to see him though, after an absence of
At this point I'm going to interrupt my own narrative to let John give us the only positive recollection I've
ever seen of the notorious gig at Telscombe Cliffs near Brighton, in August 1990 - where the Free Festival
"I was at at the infamous Telscombe Tye gig near Brighton where the Hawkwind bus was trashed, and Dave
went off and had a fight during (I seem to remember) Brainstorm - how appropriate. Quite the most thrilling
gig I've been to. Travellers set up on the hill top near Brighton, while my girlfriend at the time and I were
merrily enjoying a picnic at Beachy Head. We returned home to be greeted by several frantic messages from
her Mum saying she's just heard on the radio that Hawkwind were setting up for a gig that night. I've never
driven so fast, the Police had resigned themselves to traffic chaos as people tried to pitch up and instead had
opened the Tye to car parking.
Hawkwind were just sound checking when we arrived and then played a raw set lit only by torchlight, and
one 60w bulb or so it seemed. During the set Brock was increasingly distracted by goings-on off stage and
then quietly put his guitar down and walked off with a guy who'd been fire eating up 'til that point. When
they returned some moments later the fire-eater had a bloody face and Dave just launched into the last verse
The next day in the papers, I was rather surprised to read all the glowing letters from nearby residents, who
,rather than make the usual rude comments about litter and dogs on strings, were full of praise for the
travellers, who tidied up after themselves and left the site undamaged. Nevertheless this event seemed to
mark a turning point for the travelling community's fortunes. I remember that night though as the first time
I'd witnessed the phenomenon of Hawkwind turning up to play, for free, for the travellers, and I can't think
of another well known band who'd play for nothing without huge amounts of publicity and back patting."
And now, where was I? Oh yeah...the long dark night of the soul, when I managed to not see Hawkwind at
all for 15 years...
Things continued like this until 1997, when by chance, Hawkwind arranged a one-off charity gig right on my
doorstep. How could I not go and see them, even if it had been fifteen years since I'd last done so?