|Winter Tour 2010
As I didn't this year solicit contributions in advance of the tour (or even during & after it), I'm all the more
grateful to Manfred, Ali, Rhodri and Andrew for their reviews and to Andrew again for the photos...
Worthing Assembly Halls, 9th December 2010
Saw the Hawks in Worthing the other night- I was pretty pleased, thought the setlist worked well for the most part
and that it was a strong performance. Was glad to see Dave Brock doing more lead vocal compared to the last time
I saw them (good to hear him singing Lord of Light). Highlights were Prometheus (which really *grooves* live)
and the two-bass version of Angels of Death, a monster. There were two basses on Star Cannibal, too- never liked
this song before, but this arrangement rocks. And there was even the unexpected bonus that Tim Blake's mic
wasn't working, so Tide of the Century became an instrumental, and wasn't bad like that. In fact I really like Tim's
playing in Hawkwind these days- he's all over the sound with swooshes and squiggles. And I like Dibs far more
than I ever thought I would, although his vocals are still pretty mediocre imho. But his bass playing has improved
out of sight- lots of jamming in the middle sections, with plenty of tasteful lead guitar fills from Niall. The only lull
for me was the new song sung by Richard Chadwick, which sounded a bit weak on first hearing. Excellent lights
and projections throughout, a proper multisensory Hawkwind gig.
Worthing Assembly Hall turns out to be a nice old-fashioned provincial theatre. All seated though, which was a bit
strange. The crowd was something else- a remarkable number of completely unreconstructed addled old freaks,
many of whom were sufficiently moved by the spirit to get up and dance (for 'dance', read 'flail around alarmingly').
Then an extravagantly bearded old gent climbed on stage and sat there cross-legged for a while, before putting up
spirited resistance to attempts to remove him- although he was so intoxicated that he could barely stand, let alone
struggle effectively. Classic stuff and worth the price of admission by itself.
Liverpool Academy , 10th December 2010
The sound in Liverpool wasn't great at first which was a pity because they played You Shouldn't Do That in the
long drawn out way it should be played. I had to move nearer the front to get a more involving sound but it did
improve as the gig went on. I think perhaps it wasn't loud enough because I could hear people talking all the way
through and it was really irritating me. I got into it more as the gig went on though. Star Cannibal was excellent. I
like the song anyway but this arrangement of it was brilliant. I always used to think Angels of Death was just an
okay song but nothing special, but they've boosted it up big time, especially the middle section which gets quite
intense. I didn't pay much attention to when Niall Hone was also playing bass but I really like his screeching guitar
solos. Hawkwind need a bit of that.
Electronics were excellent. Some of the lasers these days sound a bit Tim Blake Levitation era to me, quite a soft,
bright electronic nuance. The dancers were f***ing excellent. I think these are easily the best Hawkwind dancers
I've ever seen. They did all the robotic movements for Robot and for Brainstorm they stood either side of the stage
dressed in silver like statues doing a kind of Nik Turner swing with their arms getting higher and higher. It was
simple but it really suited the song. They are proper dancers these two. They are obviously creative and invent new
movements for the songs. The only thing that Liverpool seemed to be missing was strobe lights. They just weren't
that prominent during the set and just lit up the stage area rather than being pointed at the audience.
The crowd in Liverpool always looks like a mixture of heavy metal bikers and scallies. The majority of people were
older than me. I saw a couple of young lads there, about 18. One lad looked like he had an 80s Hawkwind/traveller
style mullet which I thought looked quite cool possibly because it's such as despised haircut. Years ago there did
seem to be a bit of a Hawkwind style mullet amongst traveller types, before the whole dreadlock crusty thing. All
in all, not a bad gig. I didn't think it was as good as the Hawkfest or as good as the last time they played Liverpool
but they were two exceptional gigs and you can't expect them to play like that all of the time. But it was still pretty
good and I still think this lineup is really strong and Hawkwind are currently enjoying one of a number of a periodic
Manchester Academy, 11th December 2010
The anticipation rumbled on my 5 hour drive from West Wales to meet my fellow space cadets for our annual
Hawkmoot. It has now been 28 years since the first gathering and it is no less anticipated for the passage of time.
In fact, with the passing of each year it gathers importance, and this year was no different and neither did it
Myself, Gareth, Fre and Grim met up as usual pre-gig to discuss many Hawk related topics, best tour, new
album, set lists and of course the merits of Manchester brewers, which sadly (and not unexpectedly) caused us to
miss the support band. However with T-shirts in the bag (very nice too this time around) we staggered our way
to stage right. From the outset the boys were on form, edgy and really up for it. "Shouldnâ€™t Do That" got the
feet tapping immediately and was an excellent blast from the way distant past (not too sure how many times I
have heard this one performed but rarely as good as this one).
I wonâ€™t go thought the whole set but "Lord of Light" was refreshing as was the new take on "Star Cannibal".
"Angels of Death" was pure power and massively improved on recent versions with Niall seeming ever more
confident and involved, now a significant contributor.
"Spirit of the Age" was, as ever, a tremendous crowd pleaser and always hits the spot and "Brainstorm" was raw,
fresh and vibrant. The "Blood of the Earth" material fits like an old glove into the set, "Wraith" being the pick of
Overall it was probably the best and most well balanced set I have seen in a few years and that is a big
compliment considering that during the last five years the band have been on top form. Man of the Match...for
once a tie between them all, as all members were simply excellent.
All of our merry band agreed and so post gig it was back to Fredâ€™s for a large helping of red wine and Mr.
Jack and an excellent session of slicing oranges with swords in the garden. The night (or morning) was topped
with an orchestra of strangled cats engaging in an hour long sing-along (sorry to Fredâ€™s neighbours!!) and the
Sunday morning was full of plans for next Decembers Hawkmoot. It doesnâ€™t get much better than this!!
Oxford O2 Academy, 16th December 2010
Firstly the weather was awful on the way into Oxford, the motorway was stationary (overturned bus?) and there
was driving sleet, but Oxford itself was actually clear, if cold. The Noodle house opposite the venue was full, so
we went to the Lebanese a couple of doors down â€“ good food and good value. We rolled into the O2 at 20:40
having already determined that the band would be on at 20:45 (sorry, support act) and immediately hit a problem:
the doormanâ€™s Symbol Scanner had crashed and he couldnâ€™t confirm that our barcodes were valid. He
went away, leaving us in the cold with a very large bouncer, but eventually came back with his machine still
down, and let us in anyway.
The band came onstage at 20:45 and launched into You Shouldnâ€™t Do That for quite a long time. It took quite
a long time to recognise the song, and in fact it took an effort to recognise many of the songs. There was a good
solid chugging rhythm for most of the concert apart from a couple of slow (and dare I say dull) bits, one sung by
Richard Chadwick and one by Tim Blake. We were standing front and centre but the violin of Jon Sevink was
very hard to make out and possibly there were too many keyboards swamping it.
Talking of keyboards, what is Tim Blake on. He acts like a
crazy old grandfather who sits in the corner at Christmas
making unexpected and irrelevant remarks, and as
mentioned in another review, waving his belly about rather
inappropriately â€“ leave the dancing to the (pretty darn
good) dancers. At least he didnâ€™t try to play the
Theremin between his legs a la Alison Goldfrapp â€“ that
was one gross-out we were spared (maybe the next tour â
€“ tee hee!).
Mr Dibs has improved a bit as a singer, but not really as a bassist. Songs that should have been driven by the bass
such as You Shouldnâ€™t Do That which should be really funky and Brainstorm totally lacked the distinctive
Lemmy sound. Ironically Niall Hone is a much better bassist, but apart from the quiet numbers and the two-bass-
players songs he played guitar (rather well too). Not enough guitar from Mr Brock, and his singing was mainly
shouting, such as on Spirit of the Age.
Apart from the violinist (and Richard unless I just couldnâ
€™t see it) everyone had a laptop open on stage which
they prodded at variously during the show. Dave had a big
plywood music stand above his Llama Sequencer
(probably not the real manufacturer as the last four (lama)
letters were taped on) which rather touchingly he kept
putting his reading glasses on to see â€“ very rock and roll.
The dancers managed eight or ten costume changes and still love their stilts, which was a bit of a problem at the
O2 as the ceiling is not very high. They were very good, and added to the general ambience of the show.
The band went off at 22:30 and came back on to play a storming Youâ€™d Better Believe It, one song where you
could decently hear Jonâ€™s violin, so we got about two hours altogether . It is always good to see Hawkwind,
was particularly smiley tonight. If you donâ€™t have
tickets yet, get them now [a bit late, mate, the last night of
the tour is tonight...]
There hasnâ€™t been a live album out for a couple of
weeks, so maybe this tour will come out on one. Although
it is annoying in places it has a really good drive behind it.