Hawkwind 1997 Video CD review

Many thanks to John-Paul for this review!
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My Fiancée got me a copy of the Hawkwind Video CD “Live At The Cubby Bear Chicago 1997â€�.  
It’s an amateur production but the sound is good and although it’s filmed using only one camera, the
lights (by the Solar Fire Lightshow) make this quite watchable.  It’s a twin-disc affair (the CD’s
themselves look like CDR’s) packaged in single case with a colourful sleeve and track listing on the
back.  Being a Video CD, which is something of an unusual format, you should be able to play it on any
computer’s CD drive, and there’s a good chance that most DVD players will handle it OK.  (Mine
does)

Even though this is an unofficial release, I feel it’s a must-have for the fact that nowhere else on film
(yet) can you see this line-up: Brock, Chadwick, Richards and Tree.

CD 1 starts with animation of a flying saucer to the strains of
Earth Calling (the original Space Ritual Alive
version) then the gig proper starts.  The static camera is set centrally about twenty rows back with an
annoying graphic around the screen - like you’re looking through a cat’s eye.

Wheels follows and a good version it is too, with great spoken lyrics in the middle from the Captain; his
voice is well up in the mix which is another good point, but Jerry’s guitar is a bit quiet.  The lightshow
is good on this (and all the other songs) - it’s just a pity about the silly graphic around the screen.

Next up is
Warriors - the poem, ably spoken by Ron, which goes straight into a stonking version of Assault
& Battery / Golden Void
with some excellent, if rather quiet, lead guitar by Jerry.

After a load of spiel about coming from the country and being a green man (?) the lads give us
Assassins Of
Allah
with the twiddly bit (Space Is Their Palestine) in the middle. Ron does the vocals but he isn’t a
patch on Mr Davey IMHO - although his bass playing is good.  The camera zooms and pans giving us close-
up glimpses of the band but as usual Dave is hiding behind his keyboards.

Alchemy is next up phased in by Ron reciting the old “Cockpit Checkâ€� piece.  This would be a lot
better if Jerry’s guitar was louder.

Mr. Brock then gives us a fabulous rendition of
Love In Space with just enough echo on his voice IMHO -
sweet.  No pause this time, just a countdown from ten by Ron and we’re into
Aerospaceage Inferno.  
Ron’s voice is similar to Calvert’s: not as strong, but this is not a bad effort.  Dave then launches
straight into
Sonic Attack helped manically by Ron.  Lots of echo, whooshes, drum rolls, shouts, screams
and other unworldly sounds, fantastic.  It’s Ron’s turn next with
Blue Skin, this is a great song and
a good opportunity for Ron to use his punky style voice.

It’s time to insert disc two, which kicks off with
Brainstorm,  and not a bad version too.  A brief bass
solo before the “this is it� refrain slows the music down and into
The Camera That Could Lie.  I
don’t know why but Hawkwind do reggae really well IMHO and this is no exception.  Back into
Brainstorm with the “this is itâ€� refrain, one last chorus and then the finish and into Alien I Am.  This
is really different to any other version I’ve heard with Dave singing the verse over Ron repeatedly
chanting the “My heart is softenedâ€� lyric and a very minimalist musical backing.  
Reptoid Vision is
next and very good it is too with Ron’s crazy vocals, strobes and Jerry’s guitar which you can now
hear, and that’s it for the main part of the set.

The encore then starts with
Ejection, sung really well by Ron, as the song begins the picture goes fuzzy and
we’re back to the flying saucer from the opening of the VCD and you feel the end must be nigh…sure
enough, after another brief glimpse of the band it’s all over.

All in all quite a good gig and interesting for some early versions of some songs.  It’s a little spoilt by
having only the one camera but the music is good enough to hold your interest.  Come on Hawkwind,
release some more film footage and keep us all happy!