Hawkwind Tribute Band Gig Review
"Spirit of the Age" at the Hull Adelphi, 14/09/2002

This review was written by Paul Eaton-Jones.  He was kind enough to give his permission
for it to appear here.  Thanks Paul!
When I heard that a Hawkwind tribute band would be playing at The Adelphi Club my first reaction was 'oh
no, not another tribute band', quickly followed by 'oh no, not a HAWKWIND tribute band, how dare anyone
mess with the music of my favourite group.'  Then I thought, why not give them a chance, they could be
good.  So on Saturday, 14th. September I went along to The Adelphi to check them out.  "Them" being
Spirit Of The Age.

The room started to fill with an expectant crowd from around 21:00 and was a mixture of hippie-types,
freaks, long-haired guys in leather and denim, women in lace and long flower-pattered skirts, people in
Hawkwind and related band T-shirts and 'regularly' dressed people: in other words a typical Hawkwind
audience.  I imagine some had come to see what 'Spirit' would do to Hawkwind material and others were
there because they were friends of the band.  Either way there was a sense of expectation as show time

As the house-lights dimmed the stage-lights came up.  Swirling blues, greens and reds were interspersed
with bright white. Smoke began to drift in from the left and wafted across the stage.  The background
ambient music was replaced by a white-noise effect and a voice reciting the phrase, "if you want to get into
it, you've got to get out of it". The shadowy figures of the four band members could just be made out in the
gloom as they strapped on instruments, pressed buttons and checked cymbals, etc.  The guitarist, Gal, and
synth player Andy, donned yellow spectacles that had two torchlights incorporated into the frames adding
to the blaze of lights facing the crowd.  From out of the general melee of electronic effects there now came
a slow, insistent repetitive thudding of bass guitar, bass drum and synthesiser which we all recognised as
the intro to 'Spirit Of The Age'.  Then into the mix was added the choppy guitar riff that Dave Brock has
made his own and here was finely reproduced by Gal. After a suitably long intro, Denbo, the drummer,
uttered the awesomely chilling opening line, "I would have liked you to have been deep-frozen too."  Right
from the start the band was exactly on song and in the groove.  The bass and drums drove the song along
at a moderate pace and the guitar and synth provided a fine counterpoint to the rhythm section.  It was a
good opening to the set and I noticed a few people singing along with Denbo and Gal during the "Spirit Of
The Age" parts.  Finally the song wound down and became lost amongst the general synth effects.

Out of the background came the familiar arpeggio of 'Motorway City'.  So spot on was the intro that
everyone knew straightaway what was coming.  While this number has never been one of my top ten
Hawkwind songs, in poll after poll it is voted as many fan's all-time favourites.  Here it rocked and had
many in the crowd bouncing in time with the music.  The melody was carried by Andy on keys/synth while
a very solid rhythm was played behind him.  Next up we had 'Arrival In Utopia' and here the band dipped
for the first time.  They came to the breakdown following the first vocal section too quickly and lost their
way a little bit in the mid-section before rescuing it with a strong finish.  If we had any doubts about them
taking on the 'Winds music they were quickly dispelled by the next two songs, 'Damnation Alley' and
'Lighthouse'.  On Damnation Alley all the band were into their stride and appeared really at ease. The vocals
were clear and strong, and the bass and synth were quite excellent. The guitar intro was as you hear on
'Quark' and the drumming could have been Simon King.  I heard one guy in the crowd in front of me turn
to his buddy and remark,  "...that's a brilliant bassist".  Indeed Karl's playing reminded me very much of
Adrian Shaw.

'Lighthouse' was a slow-burn.  A long intro with Tim Blake's words and a long instrumental before the main
vocals signalled this as a corner-stone of the set.  Until Hawkwind's last tour this, again, had never been one
of my favourites.  Dave Brock's 'new vocals' have changed my opinion and tonight this version was
wonderful.  Following this hi-powered section things eased off with a rendition of 'Sonic Attack'.  It was
delivered by Den from behind his drums and I feel it would have worked better if he'd walked around the
stage and "performed" the piece.  Next we had 'Hassan-i-Sahba' and it almost worked.  By that I mean that
the beginning and ending were fine, it's just that the section following the first vocal part got a little lost.  
Even Hawkwind messed up this bit - check out Simon King repeatedly missing the beat on Weird tape
no.5-Live'76/'77.  The boys soon put this behind them as they powered towards the end of the set.  Things
picked up straightaway with 'Angels Of Death'.  Gal's riffing was top-class and, along with Den's
drumming, dominated the song.  A very heavy piece.

After some synth effects we were treated to 'The Black Corridor'.  Den's clear intonation was supported
and augmented by some very atmospheric effects from Andy.  This quite naturally lead into 'Space Is Deep'
(though I think I caught a snatch of 'Paranoia' picked out on the bass guitar).  What a stunning rendition!  
Everyone was right in the pocket.  Excellent bass playing, wonderfully phased guitar, thunderous drumming
and fabulous synth melody and effects.  On a personal note, if I have a criticism, and I feel terrible pointing
it out, I felt the section between the end of the third verse and the instrumental section was about sixteen
bars too long. The tension that it built ought to be resolved a bit sooner.  Sorry lads!  

The next song had about half-a-dozen people out front leaping and dancing like dervishes.  We were treated
to a thunderous version of 'Master Of The Universe'.  The intro was full of 'DikMik - like' whooshes,
whistles and screams and the rest of the band came in with a sound like a tuned avalanche.  Brilliant pulsing,
flashing lights and thick, swirling smoke totally obscured the band members as they powered their way
through one the all-time 'Wind classics.  What they played was more 'Space Ritual' than any later version,
say from the '80's, which to me are mere pale reflections of a truly awesome piece of music. 'Master' came
to a crashing conclusion and the band left the stage to much applause. The people called for more and were
duly rewarded when the guys came back.

The first song of the encore followed recent Hawkwind tradition with 'Hurry On Sundown'.  Gal and Andy
traded melody lines while Karl and Den kept up a solid rhythm and the song bounced along as did most of
the audience who joined in the singing.  To finish the first encore we had to have 'Silver Machine' now,
didn't we?  What we got was a far better version than Hawkwind have given us in probably 16 years.  The
effects were, again, stunning.  I heard someone say to the club sound engineer that he would need new
tweeters in the morning.  By now the band were very obviously enjoying themselves and the reaction of the
crowd who were again dancing and singing along.  As the guys went off at the end of the song we all
cheered and demanded more.  Back they came for a final charge.  They said they had nothing else prepared
so would we like to hear 'Motorway City' again?  Oh yes please.  This was even better the second time
around. Gal, the guitarist, who had looked a little apprehensive at the start of the evening and seemed happy
to stay behind his audio generator stack (just like Dave Brock these days!!!) was jumping and bouncing
across the stage talking to Karl and beaming a great big smile to all and sundry.  Then...it was over.  The
band called out thank you's and goodnight's and were gone.  The audience cheered, clapped and wanted
more. As the house lights came up and we knew there would be no more THIS time.  We turned to one
another smiled happily and said how wonderful it had been. And it had been wonderful.

My impressions? Well, I can do a good Eddie Izzard if called upon.  But seriously, this is a very, very good
band.  I spoke to a number of people after the gig and many echoed my thoughts.  Put Dave or Huw in
front of them, close your eyes and you would not be able to tell the difference between them and the real
thing.  They were that good.  The sound, the lighting, the rhythms and riffing were pure, classical
Hawkwind.  Even to the segueing of one song into the next with no verbal communication with the
audience. This was timeless Hawkwind.  What came across was not only do the band know the Hawkwind
canon and are extremely competent musicians but they LOVE Hawkwind and have a deep love for the
music and they were able to convey it to the crowd.  You could put together say Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan,
Bill Bruford and Tony Macalpine on guitar, bass drums and synth/keys respectively.  Although you would
get awesome brilliance and technical efficiency, you would not have that almost indefinable extra quality
that is a heartfelt feeling for the entity that is Hawkwind.   If you find 'Spirit of The Age' advertised in your
area I urge you to go and see them - you will not be disappointed.
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