|Not a particular slice...the whole cake
A band of ever-rising popularity, with a reputation among freaks everywhere and two successful albums
under high-flying caps, Hawkwind visited Durham for the second time recently. They were a somewhat
restructured band to that which came last time, having three new members since then. Replacement
drummer and bass guitarist and additional poet / flautist.
The Dunelm gig was weird in many ways and Hawkwind were anxious to comment on it afterwards.
"Tonight we had a lot of equipment hassles that we just couldn't get round. Dave Brock's guitar wasn't
coming through at all most of the time since his amplifier kept packing in and Nik Turner dropped his
saxophone on stage and couldn't play it after that. We've also had a lot of gear ripped off lately so things
weren't like they could be at all. We usually do a lot of improvisation around spontaneous ideas and
sometimes around d things that were worked out but we just couldn't get off tonight because of the
The previous evening they had played in Bradford where "the vibes" they said "were good" although they had
lost some microphones there. "Our audience were mainly heads, and everything was really good, the whole
place was rocking and you could feel it as soon as we played a note." Nik Turner commented "I like
Durham, I enjoyed it last time here, but then my equipment was working and tonight it wasn't."
So Hawkwind didn't play as well as they could and the audience may have felt it. Whatever, things were not
flying as they should have been. Their South African poet said "I'm normally much more cool than I was
tonight but I got very agitated by then fact that the audience was completely a dead thing. I told them to get
up and they did but they still stayed in rigid postures. I think it's all to do with being a student, even though
we didn't play as well as we could. To be a student is to be a walking critic. Our music has to do with
liberation on a lot of levels. Tonight was to do with liberation on a physical level and everyone seemed so
immovable, but often it's liberation on a psychic level. Tonight I was trying to get into a chant, like a
mantra, to try and break the rigidity but it didn't work and due to the equipment we couldn't send out the
sounds that we wanted to and the acoustics too were very strange. The sound seemed to drop down in
front. For one reason and another we weren't able to communicate."
"It's not just that they weren't on their feet, there was just no energy contact. People can sit down but they
can dance in their heads, but you can feel it, man. Sometimes the strobes have a hypnotic effect but you
can sense an energy source if the audience are there with you. Wherever we play we try and play into the
natural energy source. We can feel it if it's there and it comes back to us and sometimes it's really powerful,
like it was in Bradford. Tonight it wasn't there but the whole gig really was extremely exceptional."
I commented that the sound was heavy and that the vocals suggested a bad trip. Maybe there was no
reaction because everyone was freaked out.
"Yeah, well it's different each time we play. Tonight could have been a bad trip but it wasn't meant to be.
We can be soft and floating, not in the same way as Quintessence. It's good to have more than one side.
We often do things we've not done before and maybe never do them again but it has to be done once to find
out how it is. One thing is to involve people but the question is, are we trying to involve them in our trip or
are we trying to get in on theirs? Every gig is different due to all the different circumstances. Tonight a lot
of people didn't like it. I know, I don't feel very good about it myself. After a while we were beating our
heads against a brick wall. When we're trying for a contact it brings us down if we can't find it. Even so
we weren't thinking bummer thoughts. The vocal phrases used tonight were orientated to feeling good.
They were a poem about cosmic dancing - hardly a bad trip. But it was disappointing to everyone that we
couldn't get it on."
Again they talked of equipment being ripped off and faults during the gig but they were all keen to point out
that "there's no limit in rock to what you can do. We are not pretending to play technically brilliant sets
featuring fast accurate guitar work; that doesn't matter so much with us. Bands like Van Der Graaf are
playing highly organised, complex rock. They are tight but in a different way to us. We're more into
feelings, you know. With us it's a gestalt, not a particular slice. You're getting the whole cake."
Their manager thought too many people thought of Hawkwind too seriously. They are serious. But he was
talking of the fashion he saw as created by the media, the fashion that began possibly with Cream of intense
sit-down concert playing. "We don't want people to sit down and concentrate on us as though they are
studying for an exam or vivisection. This examination thing is something most 'progressive' bands get but
we want people to get up like they would if Rod Stewart was around. We're just people having a good time,
enjoying ourselves and trying to generate that to others. People who get to dig what we are doing don't have
to examine and try to understand us. They know already."
Whatever their equipment hassles, Hawkwind were a force you couldn't help but feel one way or the other
Hopefully they'll play more in the north-east in the future and give more the opportunity of plugging in on
their energy bands.
|From issue 3 of Muther Grumble, an alternative
newspaper from the North East of England, dated
March 1972. I keep mentally tripping over that title
and thinking that it's "Mustn't Grumble", which would
have been good advice to the band at the time,
particularly Bob Calvert - one of whose statements
was italicised in the original article, as you see it
Left: a morose gathering backstage, though this was
at the Roundhouse about a month earlier. The exact
date of the Durham gig referred to here is unknown.