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Hawkwind 40th Anniversary - Porchester Hall 29/08/2009
The day started with an encounter at Notting Hill Gate tube station, where I fell in with Simon, a bloke wearing a
Hawkwind Forum t-shirt, obviously headed for Jimski's Hawkwalk, as I was.  The two of us got there too early
and stood chatting on the corner of Notting Hill Gate and Pembridge Gardens, gradually accreting a gathering of
about 25 fans before Jimski himself came along at about 11.15am, and we all started the walk.  I had been
anticipating this a great deal, not having done more than scratch the surface of Hawkwind's birthplace on
previous forays through the area.  I'd read Jimski's excellent notes beforehand, and had a looseleaf copy in hand
ready to consult as we proceeded.  But Jimski had very kindly prepared a bound copy for me, and off we went.  
I can't remember everyone who was along but besides me, Simon and Jimski, Dazzy B and his lady were there,
as was SidBish, Alan, Jim (who grew up in the area) and Kim, Pete, Andreas from Germany, with his wife and
her friend, the estimable Steve Swann, Rod, Mike Holmes, Jill Strobridge, Ashman and his wife, PedalBin, Huw
and Mundo...¦(apologies to whoever else I've forgotten...¦I've left it too long to write this...¦)
Scenes from the Hawkwalk.  Above is All Saints
Church in Powis Square, and Huw (right) showed
his devotion by kissing the sacred spot.  (No he
isn't bending over to throw up...)  Although it's
actually a few yards to his right, where the railings
and foliage are in the photo, as that is where the
now demolished All Saints Church Hall actually
stood.  It was knocked down in 1972.  Booooo!!!!!
A lot has already been said about the Hawkwalk, and rightly so as it more than lived up to expectations.  I knew
a handful of the people along for it, but as always it was great to meet some new faces and we all connected
instantly.  I was privately amused that as soon as Jimski arrived, we all looked at him with an air of expectation
and mutely compelled him to lead us around and do the tour guide bit.  A fantastic job he did of it too, really
bringing the notes to life.   Huge thanks and appreciation to Jimski for all his hard work in not only putting the
notes together but also taking on the burden of leading us all around the area.  The weather was about perfect
(dry, sunny, not too hot) and we were even joined by curious tourists along the way, who would follow the
tour down a crowded Portobello Road, becoming steadily more confused as we proceeded, before drifting
away in their twos and threes...¦  Thankfully the crowds thinned out a bit as we got to the business end of said
thoroughfare, and stood gawping at the Westway and the site of the Mountain Grill.  Best of all, for my money,
was the turn into Powis Square to see (at last!) All Saints Church, which still stands, although the adjacent
church hall that was the location of the first ever Hawkwind gig is long gone, the site now occupied by a block
of flats.  Another interesting sight along the way was the vista provided of Trelleck Tower, a foul piece of 60's
new brutalist architecture that Jimski identified as part of the inspiration for "High Rise" (Ballard's book as well
as the song).  It's since occurred to me that the verse in Psychedelic Warlords, which references "...¦concete
jungles / that just block up the view" probably has the same provenance...¦.for what that's worth!

So we all trotted along to the Porchester Hall, and that was the next pleasant surprise.  The venue itself is within
an august building that also houses a public library...¦an unexpected air of gentility pervaded the surroundings,
and this extended to the incredibly nice security staff, who were friendly, accommodating and courteous to
everyone, all day long from midday (we got there at 1pm) until the completion of proceedings some eleven
hours later.  They were not the only people who
worked a long, long day to make this event happen.  
Margaret (Kris Tait's mum) and Sophie (Kris's niece)
were among those manning the admin desk just inside
the entrance, where we were given our wristbands that
let us come in and out of the venue as we needed to,
and gave us our goodie bags.  This was a lovely touch:
in each bag was a raffle ticket printed up to look like an
admission ticket for the first ever Group X gig at All
Saints Church Hall, 40 years before to the day; a
postcard signed by all the band; a free commemorative
CD; and a bag of "Fizz Wizz" space rock sweets
(candy, yanks!) which I have not scanned because I
have since put it to x-rated use which it would be
inappropriate to discuss here :-)  But I am very grateful
to the band for that!
There was also a T-shirt desk opposite the admin desk, and Nick Lee was amongst those doing sterling
service there, selling 40th anniversary T's bearing the same design as was on the goodie bag itself.  I bought
(erm...¦extra large...¦) T-shirts with a Roadhawks design, the Master Of The Universe UA compilation image,
and a splendid reissued Sonic Assassins 1977 graphic.  It is wonderful to see these iconic designs being made
available once more, and hopefully they generated quite a bit of revenue for the band.
Upstairs and into the hall itself.  Wow!  This early in the day there weren't many people inside as yet, so we
could get a good look at the venerable architecture of the place, and queue civilly for the bar which had real
ale, lager, cider and Guinness on tap, at very reasonable prices.  There was also home-cooked food available,
and this was a cut above the normal junky dross that rock venues provide, if you're lucky enough to get
anything at all.  I think one bloke was handling all the orders and retrieval of the food, and he worked hard to
keep everyone happy.  I don't know his name, but well done to you, mate :-)  It was little touches like this that
brought to life the promise that this was going to be an indoor festival rather than just another gig.  A difficult
thing to deliver, but they pulled it off.  Of course, it being an all-day event helped too, and the first event was a
Hawkwind performance in all but name, being billed as The Elves Of Silbury Hill, though it did include a fair
bit of Tim Blake material too.  There was some suggestion of this being an acoustic set, but really it wasn't.  
The highlight had to be Dave Brock playing harmonica to Mirror Of Illusion, which was preceded by two Tim
Blake songs, then Digital Nation, Green Finned Demon and (a treat!) The Only Ones.

Next up were the Technicians Of Spaceship Hawkwind, and I am afraid they lived up to their acronym on this
occasion.  The sound, never great, was at its poorest for their set, which consisted of long jamming versions
of Born To Go, Master Of The Universe (with a snatch of Waiting For Tomorrow embedded in it, I think) and
Ejection.  The drums were particularly unhelpful - the combination of a relentless and unvarying Simon
King-style 2/2 thrash and the muddy acoustics completely took the gloss off proceedings.  To continue in this
subjective vein, I was also underwhelmed by the
Question Time session, which was chaired by Matthew
Wright and featured all members of the band (including
Tim Blake) plus Kris and Huw Lloyd-Langton.  The
most interesting questions asked were for Kris to
answer, but she is so softly spoken that it was almost
impossible to hear what she was saying.  Richard
Chadwick's badger hand puppet (mystifyingly not called
Brock) was also, uh, featured, but I think that joke ran
its course the first time he appeared at Hawkfest 2008.
In between times there were projections on the walls and ceilings of the hall and Toby (Banco De Gaia) was
doing DJ sets at the back of the hall which were low volume enough to make for some pleasant audio
ambience without distracting from anything else, such as the various conversations I had with loony Hawkfans
from (predominantly) continental Europe.  (The life of a D-list Hawkwind celebrity!)  But everything stayed
very mellow, and I thought the no smoking in the hall (you could slip outside for a puff of whatever)
combined with the well-stocked bar gave the occasion a subtly different atmosphere to the usual
herbally-tinged flavour of a Hawkwind "happening".  Instead there seemed to be a gentle alcoholic haze settling
over the event, but without any overtones of violence whatsoever...¦very pleasant!  And this was the perfect
accompaniment to Tarantism's set - harder-edged than I've heard them before, thanks to some distortion on
the acoustic guitar which make it all a bit more 'rock'.  I thought they fitted in well, as a reminder of the
festival influence that is part of the Hawkwind mythos, and their frontwoman Mel also did her usual spot-on
job of working as stage manager for the whole thing.  It was notable how everything happened in the sequence
that was posted up on sheets of paper around the hall, and at something close to the prescribed time.  Well
done.
Huw Lloyd-Langton - lacked focus
Huw Lloyd-Langton's acoustic set followed, and this was
what we've come to expect from him.  The first number
was a blues standard that I didn't recognise and it was the
highlight of Huw's appearance because a Mr. Dave Brock
came out and accompanied him on harmonica for it.  
(The second time on the day that he had resorted to the
old harp.)  After that Huw ran through Rocky Paths and a
medley that included the acoustic intro to 5th Second of
Forever, and then he tried to leave the stage!  But his wife
Marion persuaded him to stay on and do some more, so
we got Hurry On Sundown, in which Huw kept looking
off to stage left, saying that Dave was meant to come
back out and play on it.  That didn't happen, but Tim
Blake stepped in on the harmonica and Marion danced, as
she does.  Someone called it the “Tales Of The
Unexpected" move, if you remember the openin
g
sequence / closing credits of the ancient TV show of that
name, featuring Roald Dahl's completely predictable
stories, ha ha ha.  Well, it's the same thing with Huw's solo acoustic appearances, actually.  He closed out with
a couple more blues numbers (Richard Chadwick participating on the penultimate one) and then we were in for
Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band.  Or did that come before Huw?  I can't remember.  Anyway, I thought it was
appalling - the band consists of four old gents who are all excellent musicians, but play "comedic" Dixieland
jazz, complete with allegedly funny outfits and props.  The humour is particularly leaden, and it was galling to
realize that StevePXR5 was right when he pointed out that I was smiling while watching them.  I
retrospectively decided that this was a fixed rictus grin of bafflement and abhorrence.  Honest.
But finally Hawkwind came on and played an accomplished set
lasting an hour and forty-five minutes with a very few special guests
- many people had assumed in advance this meant ex-members, but
that wasn't what occurred.  The biggest surprise was probably
seeing Captain Rizz pop up for a couple of numbers - he was OK on
Spirit Of The Age (which also featured Matthew Wright), and
positively good on the middle section of Hassan-i-Sahba, where his
toasting and movement around the stage really added to the rave-like
interregnum that this song always seems to have.   Other positive
additions to the overall show where two very attractive and
accomplished female dancers, a new lightshow, and what looked
like
a couple of giant inflatable bananas off to each side of the
stage.  There was quite a bit of ambient light in the hall, coming
from theupstairs gallery and the curtained niches at each side,
so we didn't get the full effect of the light show, but it was
brilliant to see some classic Hawkwind montages on the
backdrop, such as David Hardy's Hall Of The Mountain Grill
back cover painting, with flying saucers drifting across it :-)  
And just so that I don't totally diss Bob Kerr, he came out and
played a solo on a tiny trumpet during Lighthouse, which also
added to the song rather than detracted from it.

The band themselves seem to have found their groove as a unit.  
Mr.Dibs' punky pummellings of the bass work well alongside
Niall's second guitar duties, and Tim Blake showed us more on
the keytar (as virtual lead guitarist) and did less theremin this
time around.  The captain played his Les Paul which seemed to

thicken up his tone a bit, and there were a few unusual
treatments along the way, such as Space Is Deep being
performed as a spoken narration.  Angels Of Death was
There were plenty of retro notes struck, with Lord Of Light and You'd Better Believe It being welcome
inclusions - and Right To Decide (with the lyrics being flashed up on the backdrop in the choruses) was good
too.  Another slightly unexpected touch was to throw Silver Machine in mid-set, rather than at the end, and it
included something really rare at a Hawkwind gig - a couple of stage invasions by fans.  I think the alcoholic
flavour of the evening was responsible for this, but it all stayed good- humoured, if slightly disappointing that
the tasty young blonde who jumped up on stage only got topless as far as taking her shirt off...the mauve bra
stayed on...¦
There was also something called the gift exchange that
took place towards the end of Hawkwind's set, and I was
embarrassed to be given a lovely engraved Zippo lighter
by Steve Swann, when I hadn't brought anything with
which to participate in this event.  It was one of those
things that I had discounted in advance as being unlikely
to actually transpire, but I gather quite a few people had
put themselves more thoroughly into the spirit of the day
than curmudgeonly ingrates such as I.  So thank you,
Steve.  You're a better man than I :-)

The final number of the encore was, unexpectedly,
Fahrenheit 451, and I can't recall having heard this live
before - so that was good, but it wasn't what I would call
a storming version.  Other fans I talked to afterwards
(hello Nick and Dennis!) were blown away by
Hawkwind's set and thought it as potent as any they'd
ever
seen, but for me it was good without being great.  
This isn't intended as a criticism, because these things are
always subjective, and the day as a whole was thoroughly enjoyable, and amazing value for the £25 that the
ticket cost.  I remain totally appreciative of everyone who worked so hard to make this happen and keep it
running smoothly, and I would have been bitterly disappointed not to have been able to go...¦ As an occasion I
felt it surpassed the actual gig part, and how fantastic it is that this band does this kind of thing for its fans.  
Thanks to everyone who played, worked, walked, talked and attended.  See you all next year!
Starfarer's
Hawkwind
Page is
shortly to
invest in a
new digital
camera,
which does
not have to
be held
together with
a pony tail
holder!
The succeeding text and photos were kindly supplied by regular contributor Graham P - cheers old bean!
Lunchtime on Saturday 29th August and it is a sunny day
in Notting Hill. Inside, the Porchester Hall is a slightly
incongruous venue, a hall with chandeliers overhead and
a makeshift stage. Almost immediately after I arrived and
gathered my goody bag, the Hawks were on stage as â
€œThe Elves of Silbury Hill" - basically them in semi-
acoustic mode, doing some of Tim's solo material and
rarely played Hawk songs like "Green Finned Demon",
"Digital Nation" (sung by Richard) and "Mirror of
Illusion". The unworthy suspicion is that the Hawks
couldn't attract any support bands (although let me say
that the two who appeared went down a treat). At this
stage the crowd was still sparse and the following DJ set
was my cue to check out the catering arrangements.

The subsequent TOSH set was initially disappointing,
kicking off with a bludgeoning "Born To Go", way too loud, followed by a Calvert number. Dibs bowed out
and "Master of the Universe" followed. Keith’s vocals were uninspiring but Huw appeared on-stage and,
once his guitar was audible, he did a decent enough job - notably on his own "Waiting for Tomorrow" - OK his
semi-spoken vocals weren't great but the lead guitar was sounding good. The question time session was good
fun, Matthew Wright as question-master, Huw sitting in, Tim arriving late and Dave passing most of his
questions to Kris to answer (various new and old product seems to be on the way, courtesy of the apparently
patched-up relationship with Voiceprint). Star of the show was Richard and his glove puppet "Badger".
Above, L-R: that f***ing badger, Eichard, Huw, Dibs, Matthew Wright                  Below: The Watcher
I went out for some fresh air but came back in time
for the second half of Tarantism's set - they were as
lively and excellent as expected (keeping things
in-house, of course, their lead singer Mel does all the
stage announcements throughout the day.) A break is
followed by Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band ("I'd rather
listen to Uncle Rotter" said your webmaster and went
out for a smoke). It must be said that the Whoopee
men's set was basically identical to the set they played
at the 2007 Hawkfest (same joke about "unused
instrument", same keyboard solo, same virtuoso drum
impressions from the Professor, all the same props)
but, hey, they did it well and they seemed to be well
appreciated. Dave Brock came out to watch.

Next up, "pass the parcel", and later on Matthew

Wright and Dave from the Hawkwind Museum with a
raffle. Back to the music: I couldn't in all honesty say
I expected much from Huw's set but, although he (over) did his shuffling bumbling stage persona and the set
featured some of the same old chestnuts (Wind of Change, Rocky Paths, Cardboard City), his guitar playing
this year was assured and forceful and the other Hawks showed some solidarity - Dave joined for the first
number (on harmonica), Tim contributed piano - and then contributed impressively accomplished harmonica
on "Hurry on Sundown" when Dave failed to show. Richard played drums on a really good "Smokestack
Lightning".

The Hawks played fast and very loud, a set full of classics and little filler: the opening "Assault and Battery /
Golden Void / Where Are They Now?", "Lighthouse", "Angels of Death", "Magnu", "Spirit of the Age" and
"Silver Machine", "Lord of Light", "You'd Better Believe It", "Right to Decide" and the inevitable "Assassins"
as encore. I had to leave to catch a train so missed the second encore. A couple of poems (Dave recited
"Space is Deep"), a couple of Dibs numbers ("Wraith", "Sentinel"), an instrumental with tasteful guitar fills
from Niall ("Green Machine"?), some really good costumes on the two dancers and the inevitable guest
spots. The first one was unexpected: Bob Kerr playing mini-trumpet, I think on Lighthouse, and very good
he was too. Captain Rizz came out for Spirit of the Age (he looks ridiculous but did a good job of livening
things up), an extra guitarist at the back (who?
[Toby Marks of Banco de Gaia]) for Silver Machine - and
Matthew Wright also joined in singing the chorus.
What else to add? The tee-shirt and bag design was, what can I say, thoroughly in the spirit of the 60s
(straight out of a Robert Crumb cartoon - big breasted naked woman and a reefer) and there was a nice
souvenir CD - very much a Voiceprint special: some new stuff, some recycled material and a complete lack
of information on where the tracks come from! After the awe-inspiring spectacle of the 30th anniversary gig,
with its cast of thousands (and subsequent fractious falling out), the 40th anniversary was unashamedly
small-scale and good-humoured. Hawkwind are a cottage industry rather than rock giants these days but I
doubt that any of the fans in Porchester Hall would complain. The Hawks and supporting cast and crew did a
fantastic job.
punishingly heavy with two basses (Dibs and Niall) and one of the newer numbers, Wraith, really stood up
well as a fast rocker.