|The World Ends
This piece originally appeared in the 4th May 1974 issue of the NME, and I had previously included the
first part of it in the Press Clippings III page whence it is now moved to here, and the final part of the
article is added too. (Though I still omitted a piece from the middle, as being off-topicâ€¦) Many thanks
to Derek who provided it.
|But in the meantime, welcome to the Last Concert of All, featuring Hawkwind,
Man and plenty of buckskinned liggerage - and Charles Shaar Murray recording
the whole psychedelic spectacle for posterity (i.e. this week's NME)
The war cry of the American cretin sings out over Baltimore. "Boooooogie!" A second voice takes up the
theme with a variant on the traditional ritual. "Play some rock and roll!"
"An abominable suggestion" replies the world's only Welsh Bokononist with nary a hint of sarcasm , and
Deke Leonard takes a flying leap into "A Hard Way To Live". The Latin Casino in Baltimore, Maryland
begins to rock. After all, some of the groups who play there are Top 40 poppy bands - at least, that's what
Cathy says. Cathy is twenty years old, with long glossy black hair, and due to the drinking laws of
Marlyand, she won't be able to buy her own booze until next year. But she manages all right by pressing a
crumpled dollar bill into the palm of the reporter and requests a Southern Comfort.
The Latin Casino *is* Baltimore, Maryland. "Every Sunday is Woodstock Night! Free beer! Free pizza!"
It's a hard way to live. These kids don't know how lucky they are to be hearing the music at all. Why, just
that afternoon, Hawkwind's manager Douglas Smith had swept into the lobby of the Baltimore Holiday Inn
declaring "That's it - the gig's off! The stage is too small and we can't get the light show across it." The
other half of the package (for some reason known as the 1999 Party) agrees to play anyway, and finally so
do Hawkwind. Which is why the new Man band are on a tiny stage in Baltimore at midnight on a Sunday
playing "A Hard Way to Live" to a half empty club audience.
"How many groups", asks Doug Smith rhetorically, "would bring a package like this to the States without
the backing of their record company, do the whole thing themselves and still make money?" He's sitting in
shirt and underpants in a room full of steam in a Holiday Inn in Philadelphia. "We've brought Man along
with us because we think they're the best bloody band in the world and they're our friends. We've even
brought Andy Dunkley along. Our own deejay too. It's definitely exciting. The thing with Hawkwind is
they're still just a bunch of freaks. They made more bread off live appearances last year than any other
group in Britain and they're still just a bunch of freaks. They really are space cowboys, too."
The cowboy bit is almost incongruous. Following the 1999 Party's Southern dates, everyone's spent a small
fortune on clothing from Loretta Lynn's western shops. Lemmy and Nik Turner and ...bless her
bandoleros... even Stacia are into the fringed buckskin and stetsons, looking more like Poco roadies than
Sonic Assassins. Seemingly every member of the Man band has at least two pairs of cowboy boots.
Mickey Jones proudly displays his Nashville souvenirs, a T-shirt and this horrible garish thing that you're
supposed to hang on the wall.
[Edited out at this point is a lengthy diversion which concentrates exclusively on Man]
Strangely enough, the best set that either Man or Hawkwind played during the period I was with them was
in Baltimore. In Philadelphia, both Man and Hawkwind played well below their best that night â€“ both
bands produced lackluster music, aided and abetted by a rather muddy sound. However, in Baltimoreâ€™s
Latin Casino, despite (or perhaps because of) a confused and hostile audience, they were both great.
Hawkwind played first that night. After all, they were the bill-toppers, it was their tour, and they could
make those decisions.
Even minus Stacia and minus the light show, Hawkwind were just fine. Regular readers of this publication
will have noted that in the two years that Iâ€™ve been participating in this demented and tasteless
journalistic venture, Iâ€™ve never written about Hawkwind before. The reason for this is simply that Iâ
€™ve never enjoyed â€˜em before, A few months ago, Michael Moorcock told me that theyâ€™d gotten â
€œabout 200% tighterâ€�, and as it happens heâ€™s right. Though they only put ninety minutes worth of
ideas into a two-hour set, the genuinely funky ensemble playing of Lemmy (bass), Simon King (drums) and
Dave Brock (guitar) firmly underpins all the weirdness. Nik Turnerâ€™s saxophone and flute playing are
still not exactly ripping with virtuosity, but itâ€™s all effective enough in context.
â€œDo not panic!â€� bellows Nik. â€œâ€¦panic!â€� responds Lemmy. â€œThink only of yourself!â€� â
€œâ€¦youself!â€� â€œFar out,â€� says Cathy, â€œthis is the freakiest band weâ€™ve had here since
Iggy. Now he was weird.â€�
The funniest thing is that it works, intergalactic marauders and all. The last concert before the end of the
world. Devastation and plunder. The theory is better than the practice but it does what it says it does.
They could be a band a hundred years from now who donâ€™t play very well and learnt rock and roll off a
few surviving records. The world ends in half an hour. â€œWelcome to the future. Welcome to the
golden age. Welcome.â€� Baltimore hasnâ€™t got the faintest idea of what itâ€™s all about, but they like
the unvarying rhythm and the weird sound textures and the way the luminous legions of Liquid Len are
using what lights they have at their disposal and they give the band a reasonable reaction. They donâ€™t
know what theyâ€™re reacting to, why theyâ€™re reacting or even how, but they realise that something of
some sort has happened to them, and as thatâ€™s probably quite a musical rarity in Baltimore (even if Frank
Zappa was born there), they give da band a great big hand.
-Charles Shaar Murray
NB Hawkwind played the Latin Casino in Baltimore on 7th April 1974. Before that they were in Philadelphia
on 5th April and Nashville on the 2nd.
|The photo above might look the same as the one on the Trippinâ€™ USA page but it isnâ€™tâ€¦