|Spirit Of The Age Launch Party
A launch party was held at the Borderline in Soho on Thursday 1st September, to celebrate the release of
Hawkwind's new single "Spirit Of The Age". About 150 lucky fans were invited and this page carries
reviews and photos from some of them!
Well am I the first to report back from the TMTYL
Arrived at about 12.15 - hot as you like in there, dark
little club with a good vibe though, fair few people that
increased until about 1pm. Dave and Kris were the
only noticeable people, Alan and Richard seemed to
wander in later. First beer was on HW which was
nice, joined the queue to get Dave to sign the poster
for the new album, spoke to Matthew Wright also and
asked Dave would he be playing: he said no way!
Then got a signature from Alan who said Spacehead
were playing and we'll see what happens! (Sounded
promising). Spacehead played a jam, then Richard
joined on drums and they did Shouldn't Do That and
then the pressure seemed to mount on Dave and
Matthew introduced them and they played Brainbox
Pollution and Paradox. Great stuff, played spontaneously on Spacehead's equipment.
I then had to leave to get back to work, but it was one of my better lunchtime breaks. Bit pi**ed as it goes!
I happened to be standing directly in front of Keef during Spacehead's set, so I ended up by default
directly in front of Dave...he nearly hit me in the face with the end of the guitar at one point) a wonderful
extended version of "Paradox" (double guitar solos from Dave). Funniest thing was that Dave kept asking
Keef what the hell each of the pedals and switches on his guitar were supposed to do.
(who was very nice to me, even though I had to tell him that I really didn't know who he was, not being a
UK resident or anything). I walked into the Borders and Virgin stores on the same street just to see if they
had them in stock as well, but sadly neither did. Oh, well, Voiceprint is hardly a major label. HMV had six
or seven copies each prominently displayed in the singles bins, though not yet up on the big wall of Hit
New Releases (maybe next week?!). So that seemed pretty good at least.
|Above: Dave peers up concernedly as a fan
brandishes a copy of the single for signing (Pic -
What an excellent way to spend an early afternoon!
Did everyone else enjoy it too? I had never heard Mr
Dibs before which was a treat. I presume this is
what Spacehead sounds like. As for the Captain et al,
it was great to hear them play Brainbox Pollution and
also Paradox. Excellent stuff!
Yes - it was fun. Being a little out of the loop, I had
no idea who the first bunch on were -although the
Spacehead T-shirts gave it away- and I am not so
"out of the loop" that I didn't recognise Richard who
was guesting with them on a splendid version of "You
|Above: Dave and Pete Pracownik get down to some
serious autographing (Pic - Andrew Sones)
Shouldn't Do That". And the fellow playing keyboards with Hawkwind was Jason: he did a good job.
Shame no mellotron sounds though. Thank you Hawkwind...and Dave, please write another song as good
|Bugger all this Hawkwind stuff...last time I went
over to the canal at Bridgwater, I took a pike that
was this big, no sh*t! (Pic - Andrew Sones)
This is almost blogging, 'cause I'm just 100 m down
the street from the Borderline in Soho where the
Launch Party is just gradually wrapping up.
Wow...lots of fun. I didn't even know I could get in
until yesterday when Kris emailed me personally to
say she would put me on the list. Thanks Kris!
I thought it would just be a lowkey affair with a few
dozen people in a quiet cafe atmosphere with the new
album playing over the PA. That last part was right,
for the first 90 minutes, but there were about 150
people in there or so. Thank GOD it wasn't held
yesterday, when the temps here in London were 32C
(90F)...because it's underground, the air circulation
is a bit restricted you might say. Anyway, the stage
was set up with gear and lighting and all, which was
a bit of a surprise, so I thought that HW were really
going to play live. But then the bass was obviously
not a Ricky, and the guitar was a black Epiphone, so
it turned out to be Spacehead's gear. That was cool
enough, 'cause I didn't expect any live music at 2 in
the afternoon! Anyway, they gave out free
complimentary drinks at the bar for the first 45
minutes or so (which was extra nice), but then
eventually hit some sort of pre-arranged limit and
those who wanted another one (or three) then had to shell out a couple quid per. They also had some
champagne and sandwiches and Horse's Doovers. Plus free posters to have signed by the band. Pete
Pracownik was there (I think) and was signing stuff as well. And Matthew Wright too. So Spacehead
came on and played a few very nice spacey numbers, the first of which was apparently improv. Then
Richard came up and took over on drums and the Keef-Dibsy-Richard Trio launched into an excellent
version of "You Shouldn't Do That." But I think that was just done as an excuse to coerce Dave, Alan, and
Jason to also participate, and begrudgingly they relented and the full Hawkwind came aboard the ship. Mr.
Wright jumped up to do a nice intro and then HW proper did a sizzling "Brainbox Pollution" and then (after
some deliberation...and amazingly seeming to go with my personal suggestion of "Paradox"...
|Spacehead do their stuff (Pic - Andrew Sones)
On the way to the
show, I stopped in
the Oxford Street
HWV and bought
two copies each (a
set also for my
brother in the states)
of the two singles
(two quid apiece),
and managed to get
them signed by all
four members and
Mr. Wright as well
|Hawkwind take to the stage: L-R Alan, Richard, Jason, Dave (Pic - Andrew Sones)
|Mr Dibs (Pic - Andrew Sones)
Great afternoon, thank you Hawkwind. The album
sounds very impressive in its entirety, though you
couldn't really hear "Letter to Robert" that clearly
over the general sound of everyone in the bar. I'm
still a bit unaware as to what "Sighs" is as I
couldn't make any extra track out at that point on
Nice to hear Mr. Dibs and Spacehead playing a few
numbers, their version of "You Shouldn't Do That"
with Richard on drums was really impressive with
the wah- wah guitar.
It was an odd set-up when Hawkwind themselves
|Right: Mr.Davey (Pic - Andrew Sones)
came on, with Jason in the centre tinkling the ivories. He was playing piano rather than keyboards this
time, which gave "Brainbox Pollution" more of a Chuck Berry feel than normal. It was excellent to hear
them doing "Paradox" as well. For a minute I thought Brock was going to grace us with some wah-wah
guitar when he asked the Spacehead guitarist how
to turn a pedal on, but sadly it was not to be. (But I
have my memories of the Winter 91 tour to treasure
for that.) Excellent guitar solo work by Dave on
Just got home to discover the postie has furnished
me with the singles while I was in London! The
new studio version of "Paradox" is brilliant as well,
and I actually prefer Matthew's live delivery to the
studio version, even if he does fluff the lines a bit.
Just got back from the launch party - what a great event! Despite advice that HW would not play, they
played an impromptu set of Brainbox Pollution and Paradox after some great jamming from Spacehead
including being joined by Richard for a version of Shouldn't Do That. Hawkwind were awesome, the
venue was small and very hot but the band were really accessible, very friendly and very amenable to
chatting. Really grateful for the chance to be there, have some brilliant memories for life. Have seen HW
since 1980 but never on this 'intimate' a scale - feel very humble.
|The trio - Dave (left), Davey (above left) and Richard (above
right) (Pics - Andrew Sones)
|Left: Jason Stuart, who's been a member of the
band since October 2004, I think. Pic - Shaun
The Captain puzzles out the intricacies of his guitar
tech's set-up Pic - Shaun Downey
|Mr.Dibs performing indefatigably on the bass
Pic - Shaun Downey
It was a memorable event and it was just so nice to be able to chat to one's heroes on a very informal
and amicable basis - and the gig was a bonus! I asked Alan if they would be playing as soon as I got
there and he said he thought they'd be doing something even though he only had his plectrum with him
:-) Mr Dibs said he had a supply anyway as they both use the same make: he also said he thought
Brocky would only be singing, but in the end he (the Captain) couldn't resist picking up the axe and
giving it a good thrash - magic! I think Mr Dibs probably realised that if the instruments were there then
could be coerced into 'doing a bit' so he'd
suggested the Spacehead jam session to the
organisers - both bands were very good...
Thanks again to Hawkwind for the opportunity to
win tickets to this event. Rob, Tom and I (and
everyone else there) had a fantastic time. It was
quite an intimate affair with plenty of chances to
socialise (I ended up chatting away to Matthew
Wright's girlfriend before realising who she
was!!) There was ample opportunity to meet the
band and get stuff signed. The band were all
there, as were Spacehead and Matthew Wright.
Spacehead jammed some numbers and then the
Hawks did 2 numbers - Brainbox Pollution and
Paradox. A great afternoon.
|Below: Alan Davey looking somewhat non-plussed
at having to play whatever brand of bass Mr.Dibs
favours. Pic - Shaun Downey
That's the elixir of youth he's drinking. Pic - Shaun
|I decided to reserve the last word on this page unto myself. Not because I went to the launch party (I
live a bit too far away to have made it) but because I was tangentially involved with the arrangements,
on account of giving away tickets, thanks to the good offices of the band and record company.
Anyway, the point is that I know just how hard the band's management worked on making this event
happen smoothly for the benefit of the fans. Right up until I went to sleep the night before (some 4
hours before the party was due to start), emails were going back and forth with Kris Tait doing her
absolute utmost to see that the fans attending the party would be taken care of (as Chriz Dove refers to,
The invites were given out by 4 separate websites and Kris took on the task of co-ordinating the entries
submitted to each of the sites, and checking back to see that all the winners had been put on the guest
list, with the correct number of invites for each winner. She also phoned those fans who hadn't
confirmed, as late as the night before, and made sure that those fans who were travelling from far
away enough to have to have started out from home the day before the party had been contacted and
knew where to go. (I'm sure she was doing 100 other things at the same time, but this is what I was
None of this stuff was easy to arrange, and I'd like to take this opportunity to say thanks to Kris, who
pulls this kind of rabbit out of various kinds of hat *all the time* on behalf of the fans. "Thanks"
doesn't begin to cover it, but some kind of recognition is well overdue.
Just got back after a truly wonderful Thursday,
cost an arm and a leg but well worth every penny.
I have had problems with e-mails bouncing but Kris
found my address from the Yahoo group and made
sure we got our invites ...THANK YOU Kris!!!!
My good lady wife Sam and I drove up from
Devon to her parents on Wednesday night, we
caught the 9.30 train from Havant and travelled up
to the old smoke.
We arrived at Tottenham Court Road at about
11.00 so made our way to find the Borderline,
seeing it we went to the nearest pub for a few
swift pints to steady an excited heart! Then we
joined the queue and soon had our guest pass
laminates!!! We went into the venue and soon
ordered our drinks , my cider was "on the house" -
We saw Kris had laid out some posters & got two, one for myself and one for a friend who could not
make it. Seeing Alan and Richard free we got the posters signed, then by Matthew Wright who I chatted
to at length, mostly about his holiday in Canada, thats why he was so tanned, I introduced a shy wife to
him and took their photos...what a nice down to earth chap Matthew is!
Then Spacehead started... a nice loose jam which
culminated in a really strong version of Shouldn't
Do That with Richard on drums ...THEN oh joy!!
Hawkwind stepped up and played a short set of
Brainbox Pollution and Paradox...standing right
under Dave was a real treat!
Then it was time to go we thanked the Hawks
again and made our way on a high to the surface.
On our way home, popped into the Astoria (at my
wife's insistence) to but two tickets for December
(she demanded we buy them, the only time she has
seen them was in Northampton 2002 but such was
the impact of the afternoon she wants to go again!)
Nipped into Virgin - no sign of the single there but
bought the last 4 copies in HMV for my brothers
and boss! I shall post again with my views of the
BUT THANKS AGAIN HAWKWIND...
What a day out! I took the train into London with
Tommy and we met up with Mike at Waterloo. A
few stops on the tube and we were at Tottenham
Court Road, with 20 minutes to spare. So we
headed for the Angel pub along the road opposite
the Astoria - the scene of a few pre-gig sessions
over the last few years.
Arriving at the Borderline we found a decent sized
crowd of enthusiastic-looking people. The queue
started to move on time but rather slowly as the
guy on the door struggled to find people's names on
the guest lists (there seemed to be at least 3). At
one point Alan Davey came striding past
|Rob didn't mention their last names, so neither will I
Pic - Rob Dreamworker
announcing that he was "Late as usual". What we didn't see from where we were in the queue was
that Alan's name had apparently been missed off the guest list, which must have been interesting.
Shortly after Richard also wandered by and was told in no uncertain terms to "join the queue like
everyone else" ...¦... which he dutifully did - I assume he knew the guy who'd said that because they
chatted away as we slowly moved into the venue.
As we entered the club, four things became apparent:
-Take Me To Your Leader (the album) was being played over the PA.
-The walls were decorated with bright, psychedelic posters and there were giant mushrooms hanging
around the place. It looked great. (Shamefully, I've forgotten the name of the woman who had done all
this). [It was Yaz & Flo!!]
-There was equipment on the stage, suggesting that we might get to hear more than just the album
-It was really hot in there (already, and it got hotter)
exaggerating there. Marie (Chaos Illumination
and merchandising) also stopped by and was
subjected to a barrage of questions about how she
manages to do what she does for Hawkwind and
still hold down a full time job - the amount of their
own time and effort that some folks put into
ensuring that we have a good time at gigs is
nothing short of staggering. It's not just Dave
Law we should be buying pints for at the next gig
|Dave Museum and Jason Stuart
Pic - Rob Dreamworker
It goes without saying that we headed straight for
the bar. As if we hadn't had enough treats
already (my copies of the singles had arrived that
morning and we all got a nifty guest pass as we
came into the party), on ordering our beers we
found out that the first round was on
Hawkwind. Nice one !!
What followed was about 2 hours of
standing/wandering/chatting to people we knew
and people we had just met ...¦. and drinking
steadily (something I almost never do before 6pm
so things got a bit blurry later in the day). One of
the guys we talked to was a producer from the
BBC who had just finished doing a documentary
on Status Quo and was going to have another go
at getting Hawkwind to let him do the same. I
hope he was successful. We must have heard
the new album at least twice all the way through
and I have to say that it all sounded pretty darn
good. I particularly enjoyed the studio version of
Greenback Massacre, which is more mellow than
when it's played live but is still an outright
rocker. To Love A Machine is my favourite live
track from the recent tours - the album version
doesn't have quite the same edge, but still rings
Dave, Alan, Richard, Jason, Pete Pracownik and
Matthew Wright were all busily signing
autographs and chatting to people. If there was
an announcement I missed it, but sometime after
about 2pm Dibs, Keith and Richard kicked off a
jam. They moved onto a tight, fast and
thoroughly enjoyable version of Shouldn't Do
That. Then Matthew Wright took the stage to
thank the Hawks for the party and to call the rest
of the Hawks onto the stage although,
surprisingly, he headed off himself. I suppose
I'd been expecting them to do Spirit of the Age,
but instead we were treated to two of the most
upbeat tracks from the recent tour: Brainbox
Pollution; and Paradox. At one point (during
Above & Left: Pics - Rob Dreamworker
Paradox? ...told you things got a bit blurry) the
melody was being carried superbly by the bass
and keyboards. I was just thinking about how
good it sounded when Dave's guitar kicked in
with a vengeance and totally blew me away.
As ever we were left wanting more but,
considering that we'd been told not to expect a
performance, we were all very happy with what
we did get. The album playback continued so
we headed back for the bar. Jason came by and
was extremely modest when we tried to
compliment him on his contribution, insisting that
he learns something new every day from the rest
of the band and that he's having a really good time
- if you'd seen the grin on his face during the two
numbers they performed, you'd know he wasn't
|Right: Keef Barton
Below Jason Stuart (Pics - Rob Dreamworker)
we go to. (Let's not forget Neil, Keith and Dibs, all of whom turned out for the party on Thursday).
Eventually people started drifting away and we did likewise. Mike headed off home, so Tom and I
headed for Brixton for a jungle curry and the Litmus gig later in the evening ...
Like I said: what a day out! Fantastic. Thanks, Hawkwind, for a great party.
|Alan Davey Pic - Rob Dreamworker
|Dave Brock (Pic - Rob Dreamworker)
For a Hawkwind fan there's not much that can
compare to spending the afternoon with the band.
It all began in the queue a little before twelve
where fans broke the ice and chatted to each
other for a while, discussing gigs, festivals and
other HW experiences.
Alan strolled past nonchalantly a little later with
the comment "Late as usual!" followed by calls of
"Join the queue!" when Richard arrived a few
minutes after (to which he did and spent some
time chatting to the waiting fans!).
high spirits, Richard milled amongst the crowd and Dave patiently sat, signed and chatted to us, sipping
wine and waiting for his long-overdue lunch. Jason seemed to gel well with the Hawkfans, smiling and
enjoying the atmosphere, and Matthew and his girlfriend, Caroline, were most pleasant company, very
approachable and seemingly as happy as we all were (they seemed to be beaming broadly during the
whole afternoon!). Pete Pracownik seemed happy to see his artwork in everyone's hands and more than
a few copies of his excellent book were sold.
There's not a lot you can say to your idols when you meet them. The Hawkwind experience seems to
be as much about the life as it is about the music and I found myself at a loss when I met Dave Brock
again. There was only one thing that seemed to come to mind and I just blurted it out - "You know
we're very proud of you, don't you?" to which he simply smiled and said thanks. And that's the core of
it - no false airs and graces or vanity from the
band, they know how much we respect them
and they acknowledge it with events like this and
Spacehead put on a cracking set and,
predictably, Hawkwind went down a storm with
versions of "Brainbox Pollution" and "Paradox".
Then all too soon the session was finished and it
was all over and we all wandered into the blazing
sunshine, our heads swimming with a beery,
Grateful thanks to all involved, you know who
The crowd further back (Pic - Martin Treanor)
We then met the Captain, more photos, had our posters signed by him, he confirmed that they would be
playing Exeter ( a question I asked all the Hawks who all gave differing answers...lol) Met Pete the artist
(can't spell his surname) now, again a lovely guy, reminded him of when we met last (Space Ritual gig so
we kept our voices low, he actually drew a toadstool for my son that night).
Had a few more drinks , we were really enjoying ourselves...had photos taken with Richard (another
lovely chap) and Alan (again so friendly) then we met Jason, guess.... a lovely chap, he too comes from
Devon but we chatted about my home town Luton and Dunstable and for some reason Marillion, he told
us how good playing with Hawkwind is and how professional the band is!
L-R Tog, Lee, Martin, Unknown The same, with the Captain (Pics - Martin Treanor)
As we entered the Borderline (really just a large
stage bar with a low ceiling, decked out with
psychedelic hangings) we heard the first play of
the long awaited new album - and it sounded
good. As we enjoyed a few cooling beers
everyone relaxed and the talk seemed to come
easily giving us all a good chance to meet old
acquaintances and make new friends.
As the afternoon passed many fans grabbed the
chance to speak to the band and get CDs, posters
and other paraphernalia signed and the crew were
happy to oblige. Alan and Mr. Dibs seemed in
|Fans Martin & Tog (Pic - Martin Treanor)
|No more talk, but still the pictures roll in - thanks to
Tony for these: Hawkwind set up (left), Mr.Dibs
(below left) and Captain Scratchy (below)...
|12/09/2005: And we have yet more pics! Many
thanks to Nick Loebner for these three photos
(right, below and below right) which were taken
with a mobile phone in less than optimal
conditions... (well, I suppose that last statement
applies to all the stage shots from the launch
party...) They show off the stage lighting well, and
also those mushroom shapes which are Yaz'n'Flo's