Nik Turner's Hawklords & Gunslinger, O2 Academy Islington, 29th
October 2011

Thanks to Graham P for this gig review and those photos that are placed inline with the text.  Thanks
to Bryan Rideout for the extra pics, from the Hawklords gig at Mr.Kyp's, Poole, on 26/10/2011
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The doors opened at 6 pm while London was still packed with shoppers. We arrive around 6.30 and
eventually found our way into the tiny venue hidden in the middle of a shopping centre. Up the stairs, first
you enter a small reception area, where the merchandising was set up and from there into the venue itself â
€“ two bars, a stage and definitely nowhere to sit. Second support, the Institute of Modern Love were
already on as we entered - the sound was loud, languorous and guitar-based, occasionally gaining urgency
and sounding a bit like Muse. We stood at the back and watched as various Hawklords arrived – Nik,
Harvey, Adrian Shaw, Jerry Richards, Ron Tree. The merchandising stall had plenty of familiar releases
plus some new CDs from Steve Swindells and from Ron's new version of MOAB (more of which later), a
DVD by "Group X" (i.e. Hawklords minus Nik), and none of the Nik Turner concert material in evidence
at the 2009 show.

The merchandise desk offered two ambient CDs from Steve Swindells: Enigma Elevations and Bam Boo
(really laid-back chill-out music) and a re-launch of MOAB from Ron on Raw and Ruff. Obviously there
was no Trev Thoms on the latter and reading the credits (the crew this time includes Alice Rhubarb on
vocals and mouth organ) didn't do much for expectations. Anyway, it is mostly Ron on vocals and guitars
and the short (31 minute) nine song set is pleasingly energetic and noisy without being especially inspired.
Meanwhile, back at the gig, Gunslinger were rock
solid and kept things concise and to the point, and
they weren't even too loud. Minimal between song
banter, maximum attention to blasting out some
well-honed riff-based songs. It just seemed a bit of
a shame that they were playing a tiny venue that
was still only about half-full. This being the first
time I've seen them in action, it struck me that
Davey's junior and senior have exactly the same
singing voice. Ron Tree stood near the back of the
hall during their set, chatting with mates, looking as
skinny as ever and obviously in good spirits.
By 8pm the Hawk[lord]s were on, with a front line
of Richards, Tree, Turner and Davey, flanked by
Bainbridge and Swindells (who arrived under a
massive blond afro wig, sadly rapidly discarded).
Ron had a music stand in front of him with all his
lyric sheets. Behind was a drummer who looked a
bit like Danny Thompson but apparently wasn't.
They opened with "Aerospaceage Inferno", the
sound dominated by bass and guitar, keyboards lost
in the mix, vocals a bit muffled. "Digital Age' was
definitely better, with Ron getting well into it and the
sound from the back of the venue was not too bad - having said that, later on when I moved closer to get
a couple of photos the sound was pretty murky. "You Shouldn't Do That" (plus "Addicted To You") was
also solid without being inspired. At this point Alan Davey handed over to Ade Shaw on bass duties and
we headed for the late 70s and "Only the Dead Dreams...¦"
The Hawks generally appeared well-rehearsed,
almost slick, and the emphasis was on slightly
newer material (especially 1976-78), which was
refreshing and meant that Ade Shaw, Steve
Swindells and Harvey Bainbridge got to play on
material they played on originally including material
they wrote or co-wrote. It was good to hear "Only
the Dead Dreams...¦", "Shot Down in the Night",
"Psi Power", "Spirit of the Age", "Flying Doctor",
"Quark, Strangeness and Charm", "25 Years",
"Robot" and "Steppenwolf", among others. The
rhythm was less clunky than in 2009. Alan Davey
and Ade Shaw shared the bass chores pretty evenly, with a marked shift in feel between the heavier
Davey-fronted material (and his bass really did dominate the sound) and the lighter late 70s material with
Ade Shaw on bass. Jerry Richards played acoustic guitar on a couple of tracks, again adding variety. For
all this, there was something not quite right about the dynamics.

Firstly, the drummer turned out not to be Danny Thompson - although this was possibly a good thing in
that he was always my least favourite Hawkwind drummer. Current Hawklords drummer Meurig
Griffiths (also with Nik's current new band, Outriders of the Apocalypse, who apparently also feature
Mick Slattery) acquitted himself well. The lights and slide show were okay, if nothing to write home
about, and there were no dancers. There was also little sense of pacing about the set and some of the
arrangements were uninspired - both "Robot" and "Steppenwolf" seemed to last about a year, "Children of
the Sun" was rocked up too much, "25 Years" was (although unexpected and welcome) a bit perfunctory
and "Dreamworker" was just unwelcome. Perhaps the key problem though was that Nik had ceded
front-man duties to Ron and Ron was just a little bit over-refreshed. Ron got to make most of the
between song announcements and Nik sang lead only on the older stuff ("You Shouldn't Do That",
"Children of the Sun", "Master of the Universe" and "Brainstorm"). Ron on form is a good front man (see
the 1995 tour). His performance this time was fine most of the time (just the occasional fluffed line), and
it was certainly good to see him much more confident than in 2009, but increasingly he went off on
between song rants, including several attempts to sell his home-made Viking helmet (1/3 of proceeds to
charity). They should have let Steve take lead vocals on "Shot Down in the Night". In the end Nik had to
interrupt Ron to make the final announcements, including calling the participants in the undersubscribed
fancy dress competition up on stage and introducing the band and crew.

They encored with "Brainstorm", kicking off with the fancy dress competitors still on stage and only
about 5 minutes left on the clock before curfew time (a ridiculously early 10 pm), at which point we left -
at this stage it sounded as shambolic as it looked. Although the Hawklords have in some respects upped
their game, the novelty has also worn off and they look as though they may be going the way of Space
Ritual, with a mutual love of Robert Calvert songs and a mutual loathing of Dave Brock (allegedly) no
longer being enough to hold them together. I hope I'm wrong but, overall, I was a bit disappointed. This
was also the first Hawks-related gig I managed to persuade my partner to attend. She thought Gunslinger
was easily the best band on the night and that the Hawklords were, well, a bit of a shambles.
Above & below: Jerry Richards and curiously
helmeted norse demigod.  Nik & Adey Shaw, right
Right, Ron serves in the frontlines