|Spring 2008 Tour
Fellow Hairy-Arsed Hawkwind Fans' gig reviews and photos - contributions gladly accepted! Please
email me here to add to the page. Many thanks to all whose reviews and / or photos appear here...
As tours go this was about as brief as they get - it was all done and dusted in a single weekend :-/
Preston 53 Degrees, Friday 28/03/2008
I haven't seen a Hawkwind gig since the early Nineties, but seeing as they were playing Preston it seemed
rude not to go! I have seen them about 8-9 times in the past, but I feel this was by far the best Hawkwind
gig I have ever attended. The band were really tight and the material was a good mix of the old and new!
They played a lot of material I have never heard in the flesh before; Magnu, Damnation Alley and Flying
Doctor to name but three and it was just a very special evening. I can't believe I haven't caught them for
nigh on twenty years! Will definitely catch them live in the near future - the Space ship Hawkwind is still
firing on all cylinders...
-GhostOfCain (who also took the photo above)
Manchester Academy, Saturday 29/03/2008
I was at Manchester last night (which I discovered
the day before you could still get tickets for from
Ticketline, saved me a trip to Preston!). Really good
set & great to hear Abducted/Alien I Am, Age of the
Micro Man, Orgone Accumulator & Flying Doctor.
The only minor niggle I thought was that everything
was played a bit too fast, which worked for some
tracks but lost the vibe a little elsewhere but that
really is a minor point.
Sheffield Plug, Sunday 30/03/2008 Below: photo by Ethereal Nige
OK, this is what I have for Manchester and Sheffield (I didn't make it to Preston)... It was great fun. The
sound at Manchester was not IMO particularly good where I was standing - probably too close, and I had to
use earplugs to cut out the white noise fizz when things got really loud, but then I lost the fullness of the
sound. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the set and Sheffield was terrific. The sound there was really good
(except when Dave's amp suddenly blew up) and though the hall was packed it was still possible to move
around. The stage was a bit like a post-box slit which restricted the lightshow a bit, but it was high so you
could see the band.
Aerospaceage Inferno is a splendid start to the set. Space Love doesn't move me quite as it should but the
dancers were lithe, acrobatic and very watchable. The Awakening is great and Orgone Accumulator has a
solid rhythmic start and slides nicely into Only Dreaming. I particularly enjoyed the variation in intensity as
it built up steadily to a ferocious climax with a lovely jazzy, coloured spiky lightshow. I always enjoy the
emotion of Paradox and I like the intro to it as well but it was just getting underway in Sheffield when
Dave's on-stage amp (I think) went pop and (so I understand) they had to replug it into some other bit of the
soundboard (I'm afraid the tech bits escape me here...) But the rest of the band continued without pause
and everything came back better than ever and the track ended perfectly.
Robot is much improved - the dancers wore boiler suits and welding masks and the Three Laws were
chanted with a great deal more intensity merged with some vocoder (?) effects to sound suitably
machine-like / alien / threatening...and this was combined with such an intense white spiked lightshow, I
found I was being held almost spellbound.
During Abducted / Alien I Am (a very long track) I started trying to listen to the individual instruments a bit
more. I thought Dibs was excellent on bass. There are wonderful moments when everyone -drums, bass,
guitar- all play the same riff creating a huge forward-building momentum and then individual instruments
start playing extra layering over the top. I love that and it seemed to be happening all the time at Sheffield.
Is this a result of not having a computer generated background? If so then I am entirely happy. It was
wonderful to see Tim Blake back with his keyboard (not sure what you call it actually!) and I was fascinated
by the theremin...though I suspect it needs to be used subtly and it could become intrusive!
Master of the Universe was good. Time We Left was strange: it starts very well and the audience loved it,
chanting back the words -brilliant!- but then it goes odd, though that may just be me. I can't read my notes
on Magnu but I was being enthusiastic about something and Brainbox Pollution was matched with the lovely
sepia video of commuters hurrying along the street. Lighthouse worked extremely well with everyone doing
the vocals giving it a depth of sound it lacked before. Arrival In Utopia was another chance for audience
participation which everyone did with enthusiasm and there is a lovely chord shift in the middle of the track
which is brilliant when it works. Sonic Attack had the dancers in white with large notices saying "Don't
Panic" while Damnation Alley finished off the set with a frenzy - an excellent dramatic conclusion. Flying
Doctor was fine (I've never really taken to this track but everyone around me seemed delighted) and Silver
Machine had absolutely everything thrown at it: instruments at full intensity, demented strobe lighting, the
lot. It was impressive.
And I was exhausted by the end. I can only imagine how they must have felt on stage! But it was
thoroughly entertaining and a good weekend all round. Thank you to all.
-Jill Strobridge Below: photo by Mike M.
What was really great though was that the gig was sold out & the crowd were great! I've seen Hawkwind
over 25 times since I first saw them in '88 & I don't ever recall a gig selling out before or the level of
chanting that there was last night before the encore - just great to see on both counts :-)
-AndyGoblin Below: photo by Mike M.
Well it was 3 months in the offing and as a result of the new date sadly our group of merry Hawksters was
depleted (Gareth, you missed a belter!!). However we all mustered in Manchester: as usual, from the four
corners of the earth...well, Swansea, to be precise. With the requisite amount of ale on board and tour
t-shirts purchased (well not exactly tour shirts, but the space ritual design was v nice indeed), we once again
placed the helmets upon our collective heads and entered the arena that is the Academy. It was a sell out and
really quite packed and the Manchester audience was as vibrant as always.
I for one was a little apprehensive before the show as I did not know what to expect from Mr Dibs,
especially as I have been a big fan of Mr. Davey for many years. However I was pleasantly surprised, not
only was Mr Dibs' playing very strong, he is (sorry Alan) simply more "Hawkwindy", especially with his
Black Corridor / Welcome To The Future roles thrown in.
Overall the gig was top drawer, the guys were tight and seemed to be really into the whole thing - did I see
the Captain smile a lot, or was I only dreaming? The set list was varied, with some real treats such as
Flying Doctor and The Age Of The Micro Man (I have never heard either live in my 26 year live Hawkwind
experience): and old friends such as Master Of The Universe and Sonic Attack made a very welcome return.
For me the highlights were Magnu (a personal favourite and not heard live for some time), Time We Left and
Flying Doctor, which were all simply superb.
Man of the match for me was Dibs, although the inclusion of Tim Blake really gave them a fuller sound and
added the extra swazzle. All in all yet another top Hawknight was had by all, and I am really looking forward
to seeing the band again soon at the Wyeside festival in Hereford in June as it looks to be a nice intimate small
affair. Signing off...
-Rhodri (Below: Tim Blake & Bryan Rideout)
Others are usually much better at this than me, but
here's my take on the Preston and Manchester gigs...
They were great gigs. Preston had the better sound
IMHO maybe 'cos it wasn't as loud. Also the
lightshow at Preston seemed much brighter and
sharper for some reason. This is a very strong line-up:
Dave, Richard, Jason, Dibs, Tim: very good musicians
who are working well together.
Highlights - it was all good. Really! But if I had to choose... The Age Of The Micro Man was wonderfully
arranged with great keyboards and guitar. I hope this stays in the set for long time! I also really liked the
animation which accompanied this track: space craft taking off from rail tracks (like Fireball XL5 - great
stuff!) Space Love could be a good single... Magnu was very strong. Good to hear Dibs doing the "...a
burning brand was seen to fall,.." bit, as this has been left out in the past. Damnation Alley part 2 was great.
Jason's opening keyboards were reminiscent of the original.
Light show: this just gets better every tour!!
No low points. Well, Orgone Accumulator is played a little too fast for me, but I ain't complaining!!
OK folks, hereâ€™s my thoughts on the three recent HW gigs. Preston 53 Degrees was probably the best:
very nice venue, plenty of room, decent size stage. Tim pretty high in the mix - you could actually make
out the virtual lead (finally), not just the theremin. I was hoping for a different set from the Winter dates
and although there wasnâ€™t a great deal of difference, at least we had a few changes. The return of
Magnu was welcome and Age of the Micro Man suited Dave's / Dibs' / Richard's vocals, compared with
Fable Of A Failed Race. It morphed into the end section of Brainbox Pollution ("â€¦take my hand, Iâ€™ll
lead you on...") and this did work well.
Space Love bounced along nicely and I couldnâ€˜t help being reminded of PXR5 (chorus) during the mid
section. Lighthouse was not nearly dark and cosmic enough - Iâ€™m a Tim Blake fan and this version is
the worst youâ€™ll hear (imo). I actually prefer to hear Tim sing this rather than Dave. And being
dominated by Jason's keyboard, this does not do it for me. No background synths from Tim, just some â
€˜virtual leadâ€™ â€“ disappointing.
The rest of the set was as for the Xmas shows: Dibs sang Aerospaceage Inferno, Alien I Am (I prefer
Dave on vox), Arrival In Utopia, Flying Doctor and performed the narrated pieces. Dave started Sonic
Attack at each gig ("â€¦bring all bodies to orgasm â€˜simyewtaneouslyâ€™â€¦") and sat down regularly
when not required.
Manchester was rammed / sold out and the sound suffered. Tribe Of Cro were dreadful. Lots of pushing
and bar visits meant this was an uncomfortable gig. I missed Martin and Nicky who were both there
(shame). Before Flying Doctor, Dibs thanked the crowd for making his â€˜transitionâ€™ a pleasant one.
Sheffield Plug was probably the best and certainly the most interesting. Met up with Martin beforehand for
a chat, while support (Glyder) blasted out some Thin Lizzyish 70's twin lead rock. The stage was high
(similar to Dudley) and the venue compact but OK. The low roof meant that you didnâ€™t get the full
lightshow in all its glory - a quick mention for the lights, they were different from last year and worked
very well. Would have liked something visually more interesting than orange flame for Magnuâ€¦ Silver
Machine was full on, including strobe, v colourful and v trippy.
Anyway, back to Sheffield, Dibs finished The Awakening and we were ready for the riff for Orgone
Accumulator; the band fired off, but without Dave's guitarâ€¦cue Keith swapping guitars / leads etc.. Dave
sang the first section over the bass / keys / drums, and also over the You Know You're Only Dreaming
midsection, and it wasnâ€™t until the end of the song that the guitar spluttered to life. This meant the band
jammed a little more with the sound guy increasing the volume on Tim's lead - got my approval on that.
Still plenty of fiddling going on for start of Paradox - and again, no guitarâ€¦not until the final moments did
Dave's guitar come to life for some lead work before the song finished. Some apologies for blowing up his
amp were made and the gig continued. It made for very interesting listening, especially Orgone
Accumulator - I canâ€™t imagine weâ€™ll hear it played like this again! One other thing I noticed was
Richard missed the ending to Arrival In Utopia and there were apologies from him too. The band certainly
seemed looser at this gig compared with the other two.
Thatâ€™s about all I can recall. Overall, for me, the band were firing at 7/10. Dibs is OK, Jason would
not be missed, Tim needs to be higher in the mix. And I'm bored with Flying Doctor.
The view from Sheffield...my first time in this city, and I wasn't too impressed with the place (bear in mind
that I come from Wolverhampton and so I know a thing or two about 'Provincial Cities'!) However, it
*was* a Sunday and so I suppose it was bound to be quiet. After a couple of beers (maybe a few) at the
pub around the corner of the gig, I wandered to the venue. It was nicely filled out but not too busy - could
still get to a decent spot without treading on toes, I watched the last couple of numbers by the support band
called 'Glyder' who were a perfectly serviceable rock outfit. They sounded very much like Thin Lizzy -
complete with singing bassist and guitar hero with 'Scott Gorham' hair.
The venue is a medium sized affair and has a nice atmosphere - it reminded me of the Roadmenders in
Northampton or Robin Hood 2 in Bilston. But the stage was quite low and did not provide much of a
backdrop - would this suit Hawkwind and the Chaos Illumination lights, I wondered? So, to the band...not
sure if it is my opinion that is different, or the gig, but they were awesome last night. Similar/same set as the
last tour (no surprise as it was effectively the 'same' tour) but hell, what a difference! They were good in
December, they were blindingly (literally, with the strobes) brilliant last night. The opening number was
Aerospaceage Inferno, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck rise up - I just knew that it would be a good
one, sung by Dibs in a flat, monotone style - very reminiscent of Calvert's delivery. I never saw Calvert sing
this one but I imagine this is as close as it gets.
I have decided to give each member of the band in turn a few comments on their contribution to the
Hawksound. This is mainly because I feel that Hawkwind (with Davey leaving) are going through yet another
reinvention. It is NOT because I can't remember the set list (honest!)
Mr Dibs has come of age - I wasn't a fan of the nervous looking chap at Hawkfest, but he has grown in
confidence - hell, I even like his vocal additions to the songs now. Dibsy has been charged with adding the
snarly shouty bits 'a la Calvert' and he really is delivering them well. This is coming from someone who
cringed at his stuttering efforts at poetry when he was asked to 'guest' and recite 'space is deep' in earlier
tours. His bass playing isn't par excellence, but he is bound to suffer that "Not Lemmy" calls that every
bassist gets - Davey got around that one by doing his best to sound like him, which got him yet more
Tim Blake is also still with the band on the theramin which may be limited in what it can do, but Blake
looked totally wired up for the gig and added a bit of chaos into the mix: he clearly gets on well with the
Captain as there were many sideways glances and smiles. Blake adds visual appeal to the band - when he
comes out from behind the banks of keyboards he has a stage presence which I feel adds a great deal to the
general performance. Interestingly, he didn't sing 'Lighthouse' - that was left to Brock. Brock had a theramin
too but used it barely once or twice.
Chadwick is perhaps one of the most underrated drummers in the history of hawkwind - he rarely gets the
mention that he deserves. He hammers out a blanga style beat to tracks such as 'Brainstorm' and 'Shouldn't
Do That' - but he also moves around the kit with consummate ease. Very powerful drumming which seems a
bit more 'organic' like the Hawkwind of old tonight. I would go so far as to say he could be the best we have
had. Not convinced? Well his ranting/singing in 'Robot' and 'Shouldn't Do That' are powerful and downright
scary at times. Chadwick adds more to Hawkwind than his drumming - he is also competent at jamming, and
I reckon Hawkwind are going more in that direction now they are without the sequencing that Davey used so
Jason - not made my mind up here. Many have complained about his 'pub rock blues piano' sound and I
would have to agree here - sounds like Jools Holland on the ivories at times - maybe Tim Blake should come
off that hand-held synth and get seriously spaced out with some proper swooshing noises. Jason DOES
work well on the quieter numbers - paradox being a great arrangement tonight. However, in all the times I
have seen him with the band, he still seems like he is standing in for someone else - anyone else ever get that
Mr Brock et al were all in good spirits. His amp blew up and he playfully kicked it - as a couple of numbers
were performed with effectively no guitar - but it added to the evening. One of the band joked that Brock
was "too tired" to come out for the encore, and the Captain retorted with "I was only looking forward to my
cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit!" They finished with my pet hate -Silver Machine- but it was probably the
best version I have ever heard.
Which leaves me with the Captain. What can I say? He IS a bloody guitar genius, but not in the stereotyped
axe god mode (Glyder take note). I cannot begin to describe how good a rhythm guitar player this man
is...with the emphasis on rhythm - he switches and mutates the pounding blanga all night. His guitar playing
ultimately defines Hawkwind through the ages - I know that there has been many a debate as to whether or
not Brock or Turner typify the true essence of this band, but watching tonight there is simply no contest. For
those of you who disagree - go and listen to Space Ritual album - opening bars of 'Born to Go'. They didn't
play that number tonight, but there were times when Brock's guitar was basically huge. Maybe that's how he
blew his amp tonight. My wife often says that Brock's voice sounds 'really young for an old man' (not sure if
that is a compliment or not) but I think I know what she means - his vocals on 'Micro Man' tonight were top
This band are getting better - I was gutted when Davey left, and I have a lot of time for him, but the band are
reinventing themselves, and now have a 'looser' sound with more blanga than the sequenced Hawkwind of
before. I have lost count of how many times I have seen this lot, and I have also lost count of the amount of
times they seem to 'pull it out of the bag'. Last night was one of those times.
-Jon Hopkins Below: photo by Mike M.