|Hawkwind Live at Exeter Phoenix, 7th April 2006
Thanks to Ron Wright for text and photos, and to Rob Dreamworker and Chrizwind for their great
reviews (both of which were first posted to the Yahoo! Hawkwind group, reproduced here by
permission - cheers!
Travelled down to the gig at Exeter on Friday not
quite sure what to expect due to the new mini
album coming out. The gig was basically the same
as the Xmas Astoria set but I am sure others will
specify the full set list.
The last few times I have seen the band I thought
they were peaking and wondered how long they
could keep the momentum going: indefinitely, it
would appear. In my opinion they reached another
high again on Friday night. Everyone was firing
on all cylinders and it was an amazing show.
Very high energy with the only real slow down
being "Out There We Are". Personally I do not
number really works all that great, but it does give the band a bit of a break. The set reached a peak
with Love In Space, Lord of Light and Paradox being played back to back. Dave did the vocals on Lord
instead of Dibs and this raised the song to new levels reminiscent of the 70's. It truly was a joy to hear
and from my point of view, this along with Paradox were the two best numbers on the night. Paradox
since its reintroduction has been truly astounding. It was a song I never tired of hearing but the new
version is just incredible.
The addition of Jason has been a big factor in giving the band a better balanced sound and some of his
keyboard work was outstanding. His inclusion frees Dave up to do what he does best - play some
astounding guitar. Alan and Richard were both playing superbly and the band were joined by Jez Huggett
who made some excellent inclusions to the songs with wonderful sax and flute.
This was a great venue and a sell out added to the atmosphere. We got two encores the first being
Psychedelic Warlords / Brainbox Pollution and they had hardly got off stage when they came back on
and did Lighthouse with Richard on vocals. From a personal point of view I would rather have seen this
played first and then Psychedelic Warlords and Brainbox Pollution, but you can't have everything.
All this and a cracking lightshow from Neil and Marie made this an outstanding night. Can't wait for the
dates in October.
For a change we arrived early (about 6.30pm).
One of my passengers literally bought the last
remaining ticket at the box office as I wandered
into the venue to see what was happening. There
were what looked like a few random students and
some folks setting up for a disco and what
looked like a 2 piece band (didn't look too
closely), all of which was way too loud in the
room next to the concert hall (more on that later).
Dave and Kris plus a load of the crew were just chilling out in the bar. There may have been more of
the band there, but we decided not to intrude and left them to relax ahead of the gig - we bogged off to
find a pub that had been recommended (thanks Marie).
We found the wrong pub, the Ship, but it was OK. Bumped into Jill Strobridge in there who was
ordering food, and watched the amazed looks on the faces of two locals in the toilet as a guy in dreads
staggered out of a cubicle having stunk the place out with a pipe of seriously strong smelling skunk.
Back to the venue. There was no merchandise stall. Not sure why...maybe the lack of room in the
venue, which is quite cramped and badly laid out. I always ask someone what time the band is coming
on and last night was no exception. Don't know why I bothered though. Hawkwind had posted to the
list to say they'd be on at 9 (which seems to be their usual target time anyway), and the posters around
the place advertising the gig had all had extra bits stapled on them saying the same thing. It was crystal
clear that the Hawks were going to come on at 9. Sure enough, almost bang on 9 the band took the
The set ... was pretty much the same as on the last tour. Dibs kicked things off with Abducted (the
Ron Tree poem), then the band launched into The Right Stuff. Jez Huggett came on with a flute for
Sword of the East and returned to play clarinet and sax at various points throughout the gig. Dave's
guitar on this track was magnificent. Really choppy chords, great solo pieces. In fact, he was superb
Greenback Massacre really showed how much more melodic but powerful Alan's voice has become
over the last few years. The current version of 7 by 7 is a blinder, with Dibs doing vocals, even if Jez
did meander a bit between a great jazzy accompaniment to the song and a reminiscent parping. The
ending of this song was superb, slowing the tempo down, down, down...
Out Here We Are featured a live sax solo. That'll please the folks who didn't like the sampled version.
Richard's vocal on Angela Android featured was really strong. In fact both Alan and Richard's voices
came over very well indeed last night.
Love In Space segued into a stomping version of Lord of Light at which point the whole band went
ballistic and I think this is when the volume went up to number 11. I'm not sure if it was the heat, the
dehydration, the sub bass or the sheer volume, but my head and chest were pounding.
Paradox these days is a stunner in all departments, but Richard's haunting backing vocal really makes it
I was still feeling bloody awful and half way through Spirit of the Age I had to leave the hall to get a
drink of water, some fresh air and sit down. Nightmare: that's the first time I've ever been forced to
retire from a Hawkwind gig. Sadly I wasn't the only one. The three mates I was with had also decided
it was too much for them and came out - other folks around us were saying similar things. Damn
Once I'd rehydrated and cooled down I thought I'd sit in the room outside the hall and listen to the rest
of the set there. But the racket in that room was too loud to hear the band properly which was a pain in
the ass. From the bits I could hear, it sounded like the set continued pretty much the same was as it had
last tour. One of the lads went back in for the tail end of the encore and thought that what he heard was
something new but couldn't be certain.
The sound ... was excellent to begin with but then got turned up so loud that I couldn't hear it clearly.
Wish I'd taken my earplugs.
When the rest of the band were full on, it was hard to hear Jez and Jason, but during the quieter
moments they sounded great. The bass wasn't so clear. I could see Alan really going for it, but it felt
like there were more subsonics there than frequencies I could actually hear.
Visuals ... The lightshow last night was nothing short of superb. The balcony at the Phoenix is more
like a mezzanine - it's only half a floor up, putting it at what appeared to be optimum height. Some of
the video clips reminded me of Tron, whizzing through organic-looking tunnels wondering if every dark
blob you could see in the distance was going to be a branch off (don't think any of them were, but I
spent ages trying to find out) and moving around in different directions and shifting between layers of
The two dancers from the last tour were there, but they didn't seem to have a lot of room to manoeuvre
and I couldn't see them well.
Overall - one hell of a gig. I just wish I'd been able to handle the heat in there for the rest of the set.
I first of all must send heartfelt thanks to Kris and
the band and the crew, I wanted my son, Ryan, to
see the band but as he's only six he is far too
young to attend a gig, so I e-mailed Kris to see if
we could attend the soundcheck and they kindly
We arrived at the Phoenix at 4pm and watched as
the crew set things up, as they were working we
kept our distance and did not intrude but it was
clear from their banter and the way they worked
that they are a friendly bunch and really dedicated to Hawkwind. Alan and Richard arrived and set up,
and Richard must have spent a good 20 minutes getting his drum sound right, hitting the same drum time
and time again to get the level correct.
Time was running on, as we had to get Ryan back to Paignton and then get back for the gig so after Jez
and Jason set up I thought it best to go but Kris said stay, the band have a meal at 6.00 so they need to
do a full band soundcheck.
We stuck around and were treated to a full band rendition of Seven by Seven (Dibs included), then to
check the effects Out Here We Are and then to check everything a rocking version of Brainbox Pollution,
it was like a private gig and Ryan looked at me and smiled. Thanks Hawkwind, you *are* a people's band
(and a six-year-oldâ€™s too).
I drove like a madman to get back to Paignton, dropped Ryan off, then picked up some friends, one of
whom was going along to see what all the fuss was, then drove back to Exeter, stopping off at
Wetherspoons for a cheap beer and something to eat.
We arrived at the Phoenix at 8.15 and it was packed. I love the Phoenix - it has a great vibe and is very
friendly, I have seen many a good band there. The only complaint is that the bar is too small and hence I
missed Dibsâ€™ opening poem (Damn!!! I blame the father-in-law but thatâ€™s another story, lol). I
rushed into the hall and having seen the soundcheck, felt I knew the best place to stand and I must say
the sound was superb; Jez may be low in the mix, but he doesn't just honk, and I know if he were not
there, there would be a gap in the sound. Likewise Jason is a godsend to the band, his subtle nuances
make old songs sound so fresh (e.g. Paradox).
So I bounded in the hall to hear The Right Stuff, a great opener, kicks everything off so well. I can
never remember song sequence so the following may be out of order:
Sword of the East soon followed, Alan in full-on voice and Jez adding a new twist to the music as he did
on 7 by 7, with Dibs on vocals too.
Out Here We Are, I love this on the album and enjoyed it at the Soundcheck, but I fear during a gig it
does drop the tempo. I would prefer to see this incorporated as the middle section of a rockier number.
Having said that, it was nice to see live sax.
Love in Space was a definite highlight, I was so overcome by its beauty during the verses, I felt I had to
hold my wife like a teenager (she is 5 month pregnant). I didn't want it to end, Daveâ€™s guitar solo and
riffing was excellent, as it was throughout the gig - he just gets better and better, as do the band. So
musically tight and so relaxed around each other, with on-stage banter flying around and lots of smiles, a
truly contented band!
Lord Of Light: great vocals, this may seem strange but at the moment the vocals are so good because the
combination of voices works so well, be it Alan and Dave, or Dave and Richard, or all three (as on
Paradox is superb and the reason must be the presence of Jason but Daveâ€™s and Richardâ€™s vocals
are sublime, not to mention Alanâ€™s bass (shut your eyes and itâ€™s a new and improved version of
Lemmy) and Daveâ€™s guitar is spot on! I would like to see a CD featuring new studio versions of the
old greats, like Paradox on the B-side, maybe a passport CD (just an idea...)
The crowd sing along with Spirit of the Age, which features an animated Dave (all gestures and facial
expressions) which show he's really enjoying the song, the crowd singing turns it into a Faces/Slade gig
It was good to hear Angela Android (when we play it at home we have to cough loudly at "feeling horny
and I want to get laid" censorship for a six-year-old).
Psi Power always has a place in my heart, having first seen the band on the Hawklords tour, and buying
the song as a single. The start is a bit disjointed with the "circle, square, triangle" sequence but once it
hits itsâ€™ stride, we are into space-pop (one for the Hawkwind-do-their-own-greats CD).
Oops, I almost forgot Greenback Massacre. When I heard this live for the first time before TMTYL
came out, I knew it had classic written all over it. Alan certainly works at this song and it should remain
in the set for years to come.
Assassins Of Allah is again always a highpoint and it encompasses all of what Hawkwind are about (for
me): we get the hard riffing, the great vocals and lyrics, then halfway through we are effortlessly drawn
into the bliss that is Space is Their Palestine, at this point I am in second Heaven and just let the music
wash all over me but before we get too comfortable we are dragged back into "It is Written" and the
band take off again.
The highlight of the gig (well one of many) had to be Brainstorm, Daveâ€™s guitar thrashes out the riff
violently, Alan and Richard provide the backbone and just as the song seems to be breaking up there is
Dibs singing Upside Down and then back into Brainstorm with Richard chanting "Brainstorm" and Alan
and Dave singing. I didn't want it to end! Just perfection, best version since...well, Astoria last year lol.
The encores were a treat: Psychedelic Warlords, a rocking Brainbox Pollution and then a real treat -so
totally unexpected- a version of Tim Blake's Lighthouse, sung by Richard. I have a lot of time for Tim
and hearing this song made me feel so good (Tim is playing the Phoenix in September by the way).
Overall a great gig, one of the best, when they played the Phoenix in 2004 I didn't enjoy it as much as I
should have (following night at the Astoria they were great), but tonight the band were so tight: Richard
has to be the best drummer the band have had (he sings and writes); Alan is playing and singing well and
seems so relaxed; Dave is playing the best guitar of his career, with riffs and solos all played with
mastery and control; Jason is the best thing to have happened to the group for a long time - he adds that
extra dimension the three-piece were missing, and releases the Captain to play the guitar; and Jez too
adds a new dimension and feel to all his contributions.
I feel it was one of the best gigs I have seen, the lights were excellent too. After the gig we chilled with
a few pints then I went back into the hall to find Kris a bouncer barred my way and I explained what I
wanted to do and he went and fetched Kris (another example of how dedicated the band are, a manager
being fetched by a bouncer to chat to a fan...unheard of!!) I thanked Kris again for allowing us to the
soundcheck and told her how well the band had played.
Thank you Hawks, come back soon!
PS The Phoenix is a small venue and at the front it can get a bit packed but as my wife is pregnant we
stood back and it was OK. My friend Nigel is recovering from an operation so he always stood way
back but to see the band so close is worth it.
PPS How about an all-dayer space rock gig at the venue?
PPPS Thanks again Hawkwind see you soon