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Forty Glorious Years
My grateful thanks to
Paul Eaton-Jones for
this gig review and
photos from
Hawkwind's 40th
anniversay gig at the
Porchester Hall in
Bayswater, London,
on 29th August 2009.

I gather this has
already appeared in
Hawkfan 32, which
has just (March 2011)
come out
So Hawkwind completes its first forty years touring the cosmos righting wrongs, bringing peace, harmony,
boundless joy as well as large amounts of musical mayhem, blanga and soaring melodies to life forms
everywhere.

How many of us thought we'd see 40 years of Hawkwind? Not me even though I as a youth I hoped theyâ
€™d always go on and on. There were times in the mid 1970's when I thought the forthcoming tour might
well be their last. I waited with bated breath while the turmoil of 1976-77 unfolded and was rewarded with
two fabulous tours in '77 as well as one of the finest albums of any era in Quark, Strangeness & Charm.  And
who can forget the tenth anniversary, no-label, no-management tour of 1979? That one turned out to be a
storming success. Then, what should have been a crowning event, The Hawkestra. We all know only too well
how that turned out and the long-term fallout has seemingly altered things irrevocably. I still think that being
there was a real privilege and seeing the people on stage from across the years was a highlight of my
Hawkwind history.
           
So through many an upheaval, peak and trough they triumphed, of course, and here we are forty years to the
day and within a mile of where it all officially began.

I was so eager to be at this happening I ordered my tickets as soon as they went on sale and was rewarded
with numbers 11 & 12 for the Saturday concert. I had the same feelings of excitement and thrill I'd had when
the Hawkestra was announced. A chance to see my favourite band at a very special gig with the possibility of
seeing former group members and special guests not seen for years.

Having seem them at the Astoria at Christmas and been blown away by the thunderous sound I felt they'd
moved up a couple more notches and the recruitment of Niall Hone gave them an added dimension. I have to
admit once again that I had initially been very sceptical about him but I'm pleased to say he proved me wrong
in every facet of my doubts. He is definitely a Hawk.

I was full of expectation for Porchester and caught their show in York during the short Spring tour hoping to
perhaps see an embryonic stage show for 'the event' in August. What a major disappointment.  I complained
long and loud on the Yahoo site about how sterile and lifeless the show was. There was nothing wrong with
the playing or the guy's commitment it was just dead. I had put this down to the choice of material and
opening the set with what for me are two dud live numbers. Assault and Battery/The Golden Void have never
been successful in a live situation in my experience though I know many will and have disagreed. The
experience of my first poor Hawkwind concert put a doubt or two in my mind for the Porchester gig.

I travelled up to London from Hull early on a gloriously sunny Saturday morning on a train full of rugby league
supporters going to the Cup Final. Hull rugby fans are that mad about the game it didn't matter that neither of
their teams were in the final because they went anyway. As a rugby union fan I struggle to see their point.

A friend of mine, Karl Isaksen, was supposed to come as well but he overslept so had to catch a later train
which meant he had to pay for another train journey on top of the price of the original rail ticket! The whole
weekend cost him an arm and a leg in train and gig tickets because of his tardiness. Mind you for the last two
trips we've made to London to see the band he has just managed to get to the station within seconds of the
train leaving so this was bound to happen sooner or later.

After booking into my hotel I made tracks for the Ladbroke Grove area and the Hawk Walk venue. The
weather was still hot and everyone was in shirt sleeves as I wandered around the Portobello Market. It seemed
as though the whole of London was in a party mood. The Notting Hill Carnival was scheduled for that Bank
Holiday weekend so perhaps that was it though I prefer to think everybody somehow 'knew' that the good
weather and the feelings of electricity in the air were because Hawkwind were celebrating.

I bumped into a couple of fans at The Earl of Lonsdale pub, Martin and Doc, had a drink and then retraced
my footsteps through the market and Notting Hill Gate for an hour or so before returning to my hotel to
change.  
Later in the afternoon I made my way to the Cock & Bottle where I met up with an old school friend, Steve
Cox, who'd travelled up from Salisbury and once again I saw Martin & Doc. I had hoped that a few other
fans might have ended up there so we could trek en masse along the Hawk Walk. I later found out that many
had either done it in reverse or had just picked certain areas to investigate.

Steve and I made our way to the Porchester Hall where we finally met Karl. Walking down towards the hall
we bumped into Dave and Kris going in the opposite direction. I could cast my mind back 38-40 years and see
him walking down the Grove to pick his busking spot. Perhaps he was re-tracing his steps and showing Kris
his old stamping grounds.

Outside the hall a number of fans were being interviewed by some crew with a video camera who it turned
out were from Planet Rock. Clips of audio interviews were played on PR in September during the radio
programme about the band.

We made our way into the foyer and were immediately enticed to buy lots of goodies. There was some fine T-
shirts with designs from various album covers on sale (Masters of the Universe, Sonic Assassins 77 and
Roadhawks) as well as one especially for the event.  Also on sale were c.d.s but I didn't note which ones. A
wonderful surprise was the free goody bag. Inside were a c.d. of newly recorded Hawk classics, a signed
post-card from the band, and some reproduction tickets of the very first gig and some space dust.

As we entered the main hall upstairs TOSH (Technicians Of Spaceship Hawkwind) were on stage and had just
launched into 'Born To Go'. Even though the drums were far too dominant the familiar tune came through
well enough. I could see Huw at the back of the stage playing guitar and later in the set he moved to his old
Hawkwind position on the left. I didn't stand watching the rest of the set though as I walked around I could
hear that they were very heavy. I really wanted to see who was there and very soon bumped into Martin Wray
who has made a full recovery from his illness of last year. He kindly introduced me to Alfred Koesler. and a
chap called Rainer who I had met once before. I also met the wonderful Steve Youles who runs the brilliant
Starfarer site.
[oh gawd, I suppose that bit appeared in Hawkfan along with the rest of it...] It was good to
meet people from the discussion group and have a chat. After about ten minutes I saw Bernhard Pospiech
who, as everyone knows, is always ready to talk to fellow fans and find out what we know and how we are.
Top man. The pity was that there wasn't really enough time to have a proper in-depth chat with so many as
there was the small matter of the band to watch.

                                                    
Warriors at the Edge of Time

The band came on at exactly 21:00 to roof-raising cheers. They performed the usual checks and adjustments
and to a rising synth whistle Dibs started into the poem 'Warriors'. I've always liked this track and think it's a
great show opener. Back in the mid 1970's Nik performed it and it always raised a sense of expectation.
I don't think people were aware we were under way and many hardly noticed that Dibs was speaking the
'Warrior' poem. Once the audience had realised the gig had started they quietened down and turned stage-
ward.

My initial reaction was one of some despair as I knew that we were in for virtually the same set as the
disastrous one at York in May. As I've written above I thought the Spring tour gig was totally devoid of life
and inspiration. When Dibs came to the end of his narration he started picking out the bass line to ‘Assault
& Battery'. Once the rest of the band joined in I knew my fears of a dud were groundless. Here was a slower
more powerful version of the song that turned out to be the best I've heard. The vocals were clear and crisply
delivered and the music was unhurried. A&B segued into 'The Golden Void' and featured the swirling synths
that recreated the mellotron and violin sounds of Simon House. It was almost as stately as the album version.
Dave's guitar solo was measured and quite melodic.

'Where Are You Now?' flowed on from Golden Void and was slightly spoiled by the sound going off and
becoming drum-heavy. The projections during the song were of people such as Fidel Castro, Jimmy Carter,
Bill Clinton and Osama bin Laden.

Next up was 'Lighthouse' and I'd rather hoped Dave would sing it instead of Tim as Tim's voice has gone.
There was a long swirling intro of synths and glissando guitar, I think. The back drop was of a quasar and
gas spiralling into the black hole and from somewhere a huge flashing diamond appeared. Tim’s vocals
weren't too bad as he half spoke, half sang the words and Dibs helped out here and there. The song built
slowly and then onto the stage Bob Kerr ambled on and played some fantastic trumpet melodies that had
Mexican overtones. The whole thing moved to a climax and then it was over. A very good version. Dave
explained that Bob Kerr had let the embryonic Hawkwind rehearse in his basement in Putney and that got a big
cheer.

We drew breath for a couple of minutes as Dave recited Moorcock's 'The Black Corridor' and mixed in words
from 'Space Is Deep' to synth accompaniment.
Then one of the highlights, the modern version of
'Angels of Death'. In the margin of my notes I'd written,
"OH MY GOD". I'd heard this twin-bass assault last
Christmas at The Astoria so knew what to expect but
this was even more breathtaking. The first part of the
instrumental section had lots of Tim's synth and
keyboard sounds and Dave's coruscating lead guitar but
then it descended into a whole different place. A place
of Hawkwind legend, a place of sound and fury that only
Hawkwind can produce. After about four minutes everything remotely melodic just vanished to be replaced
with an almost monotonous rhythm based on the twin bass sounds of Dibs and Nial. Dave produced his
trade-mark choppy rhythm guitar sound and we were treated to the sort of Hawk-jam they built their
reputation on in the years 1971-73. For anyone who came to Hawkwind in the late 80's onward they saw and
heard what we older fans are constantly banging on about. I felt this song could have gone of another ten
minutes without it becoming tedious. I can't actually remember what was being projected apart from the
skeleton policemen.

The next song is one of the newer ones, 'Wraith'. This has got better since it first appeared a couple of years
ago. The middle bit packs more punch with Dave playing some nice guitar. It still has the 'Spacehead' feel
rather than a Hawk track especially with Dibs' vocals but is well liked by the crowds. The visuals were of two
Ray Harryhausen dinosaurs fighting, and some pterosaurs flying around. Then a new one on me, 'Green
Machine'. This is a quiet instrumental and is played while the screen shows some skeletons, a horse crossing a
desert and for some reason an inverted image of the Very Large Array radio telescopes. The music started to
meander a bit aimlessly towards the end and eventually merged into a truly stunning version of 'Spirit Of the
Age'. A real surprise, and a very welcome one, was the reappearance of Captain Rizz who shouted out
encouragement and did his toasting thing over and around Dave's vocals. Dave's lead guitar on this was a
towering example of his ability and was well up in the mix. Rizz careered all over the stage shouting out "Spirit
of the Age" and calling on us to join in - not that we needed any encouragement. Matthew Wright made an
appearance on backing vocals and a young guy, later introduced as Toby, stood at the back of the stage
playing rhythm guitar. Tim played some very smooth synthesiser during the second part of the song that added
another dimension to the piece. All the time Richard was pounding away and Dibs and Nial provided great bass
and rhythm guitar backing. This song never fails to thrill me and sounds as fresh as ever. Awesome.

Then another surprise. 'Silver Machine' in the middle of the main set. Richard and Dave took lead vocals and
were joined by Matthew Wright part way in. Tim played Theremin and brought out some very spacey sounds.
Another old favourite making reappearance was The Silver Surfer on the screen. Not seen him for nearly 30
years - Sonic Attack tour I think was the last time. By putting Silver Machine in the main set it wasn't a rushed
job and got a full lead guitar break and full commitment rather than, "let's get it over with in the encore because
the fans expect it". A very good version.

Dibs then slowed things right down with 'Sentinel'. This is fast emerging as a crowd and personal favourite.
Dave again pulled out the stops and peeled off some very slow, melodic guitar. Like many people I feel he's
under-rated as a lead guitarist and I feel he ought to make more of his talent.
Then it was back to "Old Skool" Hawkwind with 'Lord
Of Light'. Dave, Dibs and Richard shared lead vocals and
Nial took on lead guitar duties as this song suits Dave's
rhythm style and he produced his figure-of-eight pattern
to great effect. As befits the song we got Stonehenge
projected and some other stuff I can't recall. The overall
effect was a very powerful and the band went into a long
jam session in the middle and once again harked back to
their early days. At one point the pieces of paper that Dave
was singing from slipped from the lectern in front of him and the look of horror on his face was something to
behold. This has always been a crowd pleaser and huge cheers greeted the end of the song.

Then we got a Dibs poem while the cover to Live Chronicles was on the screen. I didn't see much connection
between the two myself. As he finished the opening chords to 'Magnu' thundered out from the speakers with
Dave and Dibs taking the vocals. Onto the stage came the dancers again this time dressed as spiders!!! At one
point Dave was menaced by eight of them I think. The projections were dazzling with the best being David
Hardy's artwork for the back cover for 'Hall Of The Mountain Grill'. In the middle section we got Brainbox
Pollution and Dave played some blistering lead guitar.

Next we were treated to another old song that has been resurrected recently - 'You'd Better Believe It'. Dave
again pulled out all the stops and metaphorically tore the strings off his guitar. We had dancers and Rizz
jumping around in an orange fluorescent jacket that added something though I'm not sure what.

After a bit of chat from Richard about how close we were to the end he introduced the next songs one that's a
bit controversial - 'The Right To Decide'. I had actually forgotten the furore that had surrounded the song when
it was first released. For those who don't know it surrounds a fatal shooting in the north east, I think, when a
local government building inspector was confronted by a man he'd come to see about some irregularity in the
extension the man had put up. One thing led to another until live on television the elderly man produced a gun
and shot the building inspector. I forget now how Hawkwind became involved. Anyway, this version rocked
and Dave's voice carried it quite well. It's not a favourite of mine and is from an era I'm not really keen on. The
end of the song marked the end of the main set but we knew they'd be back

Following a bit more chat from the stage we had the present exchange. To my shame I had forgotten about this
and hadn't brought anything. The chap standing next to me very kindly gave me a copy of the Potter's Bar gig
from 1971.

Tim then asked if were having a good time and Dave wanted to know where HIS present was.

Rizz came back on to give us a few words about hashish and then the familiar opening to Hassan-i-Sahba
swirled around the room. Many people are heartily tired of this and up until three years ago I'd always dreaded
the shouty rendition. Since Dibs has taken lead vocals and the band plays it a little slower and heavier it has
come alive. It's not as menacing Bob Calvert made it during 1977/78 but this is their version. During the very
exciting 'Space Is Their Palestine' section two dancers dressed as harem  girls came on stage  and did their
Raqs Sharqi belly dance routine. The dancers have now become an integral part of any Hawkwind show now
and are very, very good. They appear more professional, more rehearsed and the routines are more closely
linked to the tunes being played. Previous dancers have just moved and jiggled in time to the music and it's been
a long time since we've been treated to a proper mime. (Tony Crerar as Elric and before that Stacia). Captain
Rizz did his usual toasting and called out 'New Age' and 'hashish' whenever the spirit moved him. This was a
very powerful piece and the projected images included a field full of mushrooms dancing up and down in time
to the music (you had to be there!). Only at a Hawkwind concert could that happen and appear logical and not
kitsch. The song finished to rousing cheers and thunderous applause. Kris came on to speak to us and asked us
to cheer her mother Margaret for putting a huge effort into getting it together. Dibs thanked the lights, sound
technicians etc; Richard thanked us for making them do it. Dave said time for one more and we were treated to
a great version of Fahrenheit 451. This is a song that many fans have been wanting to hear for a long time. I
don't think this has been played live before this year (it might have been done at Christmas I'd have to check
my notes) and was very well received judging by the cheers and looks of joy on the faces of the fans.

And that was that. The end of a fantastic day.

As the crowd started to disperse I looked around and there stood next to me in a red T-shirt was David
Gilmore of the Pink Floyd! He was applauding and nodding in appreciation. Then he turned and walked slowly
through the milling throng towards the exit totally invisible to the crowd (or at least no one hassled him!) A
legend coming to see a legend.

                                           
Highlights from a virtually flawless set...

Angels Of Death. A herd of buffalo stampeding down an oak staircase sums it up.

Spirit Of The Age. THE highlight. Rizz was magnificent. His vocal contributions were spot on and his jigging
around the stage fitted right in. He has to be a major fan of the band and music to perform as he did and it
seemed that everybody on stage was having a ball.

Lord Of Light. Superb. Great extended jamming in the middle; ditto You'd Better Believe It and Hassan-i-Sahba.
Oh yes. Dave used his Gibson guitar for the first time in a while which delighted me as I will always associate
the Gibson/Dick Knight guitar with him rather than the Westone paint job or not.

Apart from the first Hawkwind concert I went to which is special this was probably the best one I've seen. A
10/10? Almost, though I'd be very hard pressed to say where they dropped a mark or even half a mark.

I think that like quite a number of people I'd conned myself into expecting something extra special. Mission
Control hadn't really given any hint that there would be former members, special events or anything more than
a birthday celebration. My own expectations were that we'd get a full or even part version of The Space Ritual.
I don't think this was too unreasonable as, to my mind, many things pointed to this. First, virtually all the songs
and poems had been aired during the previous 3-4 years with the exception of 'Born To Go'. Second, the set
designs for the past 3 tours have taken on a spaceship/Space Ritual aspect - the artwork at the side of the stage
showed Stacia's leopards and the blue oil/lava light effect from the cover of the Ritual. The paintings at the rear
of the stage either side of the backcloth were of a spaceship's engine room. So I don't think it was
unreasonable to think that just maybe we'd get The Space Ritual. Talking to some of the audience they too
thought they'd see Dave and Nik stride onto the stage, shake hands and the band would take flight. Perhaps one
day...¦...¦...¦..

The support acts certainly deserve a mention. Following TOSH Huw Lloyd-Langton came on for a solo spot to
a warm reception. Huw was Huw. Flashes of former brilliance but not quite there.  He played acoustic versions
of 'Rocky Paths', 'Wind Of Change', 'Moonglum' (I think) and 'Wars Are The Hobby There' (again, I think).
The reason I'm not too sure of the songs is that I was concentrating more on listening than note taking.
We all know he has had severe health problems and while
clearly not well he performed heroically. He has an enormous
well of love and affection within the Hawk community and an
even bigger cheer went up when Huw was joined on stage by
Dave, with his mouth organ, for a version of Hurry On
Sundown. As the song finished and Dave moved off to the
wings there was a sublime moment of heart-stopping warmth

when Dave gently placed his hand on Huw's shoulder and gave
it a friendly squeeze and smiled at him. The pat he got from Dave seemed to some up 40 years of love, respect
and thanks for his contributions.

When Huw's short set came to an end he once again received warm and generous applause.

The next two acts were, in no particular order, Tarantism and an American ranter/poet. I have to say I wasnâ
€™t too keen on Tarantism's type of music and felt it would have been more at home in a tent at a folk festival.

The American 'street' poet drew looks of amusement, incredulity and horror in equal amounts. He would
probably have fitted into an old Hawkwind event but here seemed totally out of place. Overall he was quite
poor. Sorry buddy.

I made a comment on the Yahoo group that if we were to have this style of entertainment we should have
asked our own Paul Stevens to do a spot. Some of his work as The RevPorl is very good indeed. Imagine a
really annoyed John Cooper Clark and you will get the picture.

We were also treated to a half hour question and answer session. Unfortunately all questions had to be
submitted some time beforehand so there were no real surprises. The session was amusing if not in any way
illuminating. Dave almost took the edge of the proceedings when in answer to the question 'will there be a
50th?' replied, 'I might be dead'. There was also talk about the Hawk Holidays and everyone thought it was a
cracking idea. The most popular destinations seem to be a trip to northern Norway to see the Aurora Borealis or
a boat trip down the river Nile to see the pyramids. I hope this idea comes to fruition as it will be something
unique.

In many ways the highlight of this interlude was Richard sitting behind a hastily erected stall exchanging
witticisms with a badger, a glove puppet not a real one as that would have been ridiculous!! Every so often they
would interject something slightly scurrilous, contentious but always funny.

One answer that raised cheers was the announcement that the 'Warrior On The Edge Of Time' album IS going
to be released as a re-mastered edition "fairly soon once certain people have signed" {they're waiting for Lemmy
who has absolutely no objections}. Personally I hoped there might be some discussion about the on-going feud
between Hawkwind and former members. It shouldn't be a topic that is off-limits and some of us would like to
hear first-hand what Dave and the current line up think. A few thought the session was a bit like the party
faithful at a political rally but at least the news about 'Warrior' was something we didn't know!
The real highlight prior to Hawkwind's set
was Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band. Although
I knew of them I don't think I'd heard any
of their music since the early 1970's. That
whole slew of bands purveying that
strangely British musical whimsy doesn't
always appeal to me - the Bonzo's, The
New Vaudeville Band, Vivian Stanshall etc.
I always went for the genius that was
Spike Jones. However they were brilliant.
Absolutely wonderful. We were given a
full-on vaudevillian, end-of-pier set full of
amusing noises and sound effects, some

very odd 'musical' instruments such as
teapots, hosepipes, a kitchen sink complete
with draining board (honestly. I've sent Brian the photo) as well as Bob playing cornet, trumpet etc etc. These
guys are very skilled and highly professional musicians because to play in that style requires practice and an
attention to detail. Some of their stand up-sit sown actions in time to the music brought howls of laughter and
huge cheers. They also managed to change hats, juggle things and generally fool about while playing
complicated, syncopated rhythms. I loved them.

The only minus point were the few in the audience who insisted on talking very loudly throughout their entire
set and couldn't be bothered to give them a chance. Very bad form.

                                                          
Hawkwind's future

They seem to be on the verge of rediscovering their theatricality which is something that has been missing
since Bridgett and certainly since the Alien 4 tour.  This is a good thing from my point of view as it takes the
concert into something more than just another rock show. For me Hawkwind was always that mix of sight and
sound, music and theatre. The lower light levels and less chat between numbers hark back to an earlier time
and that too is to be welcomed. So from a presentation angle they're energised and finding a different direction
when compared with the past 6-7 years.

I've said before that as an institution they're virtually untouchable and beyond criticism but they shouldn't rest
on their laurels. The Hawkwind way is to push forward and explore scientific and social ideas and turn them
into music. Perhaps they've been guilty of standing still for a bit too long and not giving us what we want. They
are STILL top of their particular tree with no band anywhere near them. There are many groups who covet
their mantle but most/all are very pale in comparison.

Then of course there are the many bands that have been influenced by Hawkwind. For instance, Pete Shelley of
The Buzzcocks has always said that The Space Ritual was his favourite album and having seem them in
Beverley in June '08 I can see how. There were songs that were 8-9 heavy rock workouts which owed more
to Hawk-type jams rather than punk. And of course we all know how Johnny Rotten was inspired by Bob
Calvert, Mick Jones of The Clash wanted to write 3 minute Hawkwind style songs

As someone who saw them in the early-ish days the sense of theatre and 'right-on-the-edge' madness was
amazing. I've actually found myself screaming along with the sound emanating from the p.a. It was a mixture
of laughter, joy, an exuberant sense of being alive, being energised, being part of..... something and just BEING
THERE. I've had tears streaming down my face for an entire concert and never once feeling uncomfortable or
ashamed of the feelings. That dozen or so people on stage making me feel that way will forever have my
gratitude. (the people at the time being Dave, Nik, Bob, Lemmy, Del, Simon King, Simon House, Adrian, Paul
Rudolph, Stacia and Allan Powell)

The support from the fans is still quite obvious and to some extent seems even more hardcore than 25 years
ago.  Dave has always said as long as the fans turn up so will the band. A 50th? I'm sure it will happen as long
as the guys are fit and healthy and I can see a time when the current line up have grown too old but Hawkwind
still tour. They have become like a rugby or football club. You start with an original 15 or 11 and over the years
members get transferred in and out yet the club still remains. Perhaps 10,000 years in the future Hawkwind will
be the Roger Dean band of alien creatures on the cover of the Michael Moorcock novel,'Elric at the End of
Time'. Why the hell not?? That would be fantastic. Hawkwind then, now and forever - simply the best.

-Paul Eaton-Jones