|Send For Quatermass!
Britain in grip of time-warp as thousands flock to Hawkwind rites
This article first appeared in Sounds on 08/12/79. Many thanks to Wilfried Schuesler for scanning it.
Stand by the wall in one of the side aisles of the Liverpool City Hall and you risk considerable damage
from passing Low Flying Bodies. The bodies in question are early / mid teenies being thrown bodily from
the front of the stage by large, spherical men. The kids seem to accept it as part of the gig. The bouncers
repel them with benign force.
Y'see, Hawkwind have hit town, and the funny farm has allowed the throwbacks out for a holiday.
Garbed in regulation counter- culture togs, they go absolutely wild as Hawkwind thunder through a
reasonable set (for reasons they'll explain themselves), calming down only to gape at the DNA-spirals and
other mirages projected on the ceiling by a green laser beam.
After plowing uproariously through 'Brainstorm', 'Silver Machine', 'Master Of The Universe', 'Spirit Of
The Age', 'PXR-5', 'Urban Guerilla' and other, newer, pieces, the band flees the stage for the dressing
room. Two floors down, a small crowd of fans cluster in the rain, sending up chants, cheers and
A few even climb the drain-pipes to pass posters and programmes in through the window for the band to
sign. Ten years, multitudinous personnel changes and one year-long lay-off later, Hawkwind are still
pulling them in like it was still the heyday of space-rock...
Eleven a.m. and actor Tom Bell sits in the lounge of the Centre Hotel eyeing the Hawkwind caravan with
wide-eyed curiosity and looking like an over-dressed version of his character in the play 'Bent'. He's
looking forward, it seems, to see City play, we're looking forward to a four-hour drive to Edinburgh, next
stop on the Lords Of Time's tour.
Founder / guitarist Dave Brock captains one of the two hired saloons. The hyperactive Tim Blake jabbers
and snoozes in the navigator's seat. Harvey curls up in the back seat, victim of a hangover. Apart from
the occasional perfunctory remark about the weather, drivers and snippets of Hawkwind history, the four
hours pass in silence. Brock is taciturn, coolly suspicious, it seems, of journalists.
As World Of Sport or some such blares from the telly in his room in Edinburgh Eurocrest Hotel, Brock
divides his time equally between watching football and talking. Another tactic for Dealing With Journalists.
The gigs so far haven't, even by Hawkwind's anarchic standards, been that good.
"The first gig was disastrous. Well, I thought it was. It wasn't together. It's silly. We shouldn't have
started a tour with the first gig being in Manchester. You should build up. All the gear was all over the
joint. The lights weren't working properly. All those little things...¦"
It should be explained that Hawkwind are no millionaires. Their present tour is being paid for by their
manager and themselves. Although they've virtually signed the last legal document to a deal with the WEA
subsidiary, Automatic Records, they're not lighting joints with rolled-up fivers. Sacrifice is the name of
this particular game, in terms of band wages, crew, accommodation, staging, on-the-road comforts and
so on. But that's never stopped the irrepressible Hawkwind, and Brock is very enthusiastic.
"Musically, it's all a lot better. It's not going to come together now, it's like a three year period we're on.
This time next year we should be really good. You have to build up. Like a machine, once it's got a bit of
oil in it, it'll start working properly. It's just a matter of time before it starts working really well."
It's a sign of the workability of this incarnation of Hawkwind that Brock is talking in terms of Three Year
Plans. He accepts that most of those years will be a slog with an optimistic resignation.
"It's going to lose money, this tour. There's been no publicity, no advertising. Yet, every place we are
playing is sold out. It's really nice to know you can actually get that together."
One of the things circumstances haven't allowed the band to get together is their stage-show. Apart from
the laser, there should be a battery of lights and other effects accompanying the band. These are in
storage, the band having neither the money nor manpower to get them out.
"That really hangs me up," says Brock. Basically, the band wasn't prepared to go on the road -"We only
started working two days before the tour," he says- but is coping in its inimitable anarchic fashion. The
shortcomings of the tour organisation aren't bothering the ecstatic audiences one bit, and Brock readily
admits they rarely spot a duff set unless it's absolutely disastrous.
At the end of three years, Hawkwind will have been rocking around the universe for fourteen years. Yet
Brock has no plans for retirement. "Everybody has missed the point of this band. We are the only
revolutionary band in the country, because we have complete change all the time. We build up to a point
and then it's got to be pulled down and started again. That's why you've seen a huge amount of people
work for us. They each give their certain piece."
If some twat like Frank Bough hadn't boomed out and drowned the tape, Brock would have gone on to
explain that Hawkwind is essentially a good-time band, programmed to rock'n'roll until it drops. And,
although they, their music and their audience are basically reactionary, the band is a rock institution which
draws the fervent and the curious. "They come because they know we do something different every time
we do a tour. We do something completely different every year. We do songs and solos different every
Plumping himself down on Brock's bed, Huw Lloyd-Jones adds, "Extemporisation!" with a sarcastic
twinkle. A phone-call announces it's time to leave for the soundcheck. Tape and rugby union are switched
If anything, the Edinburgh Odeon gig was worse than Liverpool. The Odeon is an appalling barn of a
place, a gaping auditorium with its roof studded with star-lights. Although the band liked the set, once the
sound left the stage it sprawled around the hall. The faithful, of course, clustered stage-front, frequently
getting covered by 20-foot high billows of -yes- dry ice.
The backstage ritual of ignoring and / or hallooing the fans outside began again. The security doors
sounded as though they'd give way with every rush of the fans outside (even a 'counter-culture' band
needs a modicum of privacy). They decamped to the hotel, most sloping off straight up the wooded hill to
Bedfordshire. Simon House and Huw burnt the midnight oil with some Dolls by Doll, support act on the
tour and victims of regular verbal attacks from the audience. House fell prey to the demon microphone.
The only reason House would reform Hawkwind, he says, "was if it went back without Bob (Calvert) and
without going backwards. Going back to the sort of thing we were doing in '72 and '73. No front-man
and a lot of jamming onstage."
The first 'rider clause' to his rejoining the band is a minor controversy within the group. According to
both House and Brock, Calvert left the Hawklords in a state of advanced paranoia, at one point even
believing that Brock had a contract out on him. Various psychological hassles with Calvert, involving
management and record label, left the band penniless, and "in the shit". It's taken them a year to regain
their footing. "Basically," House says, "Bob was a prima-donna."
With the worst behind them, House is optimistic about the future of the band. After the British tour,
they're off to France - although driving around France in the depths of winter is something none of them
is looking forward to. On their return, they'll be going into the studio to record the next album. House
sees the future of Hawkwind as a return to the looser style of earlier years, "Going back to the Space
Then it was into the hired cars again for the short journey to Glasgow. And soundchecks. And encores.
And kids clambering into the dressing room. And staying up too late. And hastily-snatched meals. And
hundreds of miles of boring car journeys. After more than a decade, they're still gluttons for punishment.
|Above: the Winter 79 tour line-up (L-R) Huw Lloyd-Langton, Simon King, Harvey Bainbridge, Dave
Brock, Tim Blake