40th Anniversary of Hawkwind - Porchester Hall, London August 29th, 2009
From Aural Innovations October 2009 update
Seeing as Hawkwind is one of my all time favourite bands and I was attending the 30th anniversary gig in London back in 2000 (they had it a year late as it took them a while to get their stuff together), I was not going to miss this one. There was very little information about who was going to play or what was going to happen at this all day event so it was really a mystery. They had a gig the day before at the same venue so if you wanted to read on the internet you could find out and blow the secret. Anyway, doors opened at 12 and something was supposed to start at 14. Sue and I ate a large pizza down the street before arriving a little after 13. When you turned in your ticket they gave you a nice cloth Hawkwind bag, the size to hold LPs, with a special CD made especially for this event, a package of Fizz Wiz popping candy, a raffle ticket, a postcard of the picture used to advertise the gig that was autographed by all in the band. Very nice. Next to the desk was also a box where you could write down questions that might get answered by the band during question time. My questions were: Will the Roadburn DVD ever be finished and released? Why doesn't that band record and release all of their concerts for the fans who are filling to pay for them?
The approx. schedule was:
13:45 Elves of Silsbury Hill (Hawkwind, sort of..)
14:30- 15:00 DJ Set (Toby from Banco de Gaia)
15-15:45- Technicians of Spaceship Hawkwind
16-16:30 Question Time with hawkwind
16:30- 17- Tarantism
17:3-18- DJ Set (Toby from Banco de Gaia)
18-19 Bob Keer’s Whoopie Bad
20:15 Huw Lloyd Langton
The Elves of Silsbury Hill was a combination of a Tim Blake solo set and some older Hawkwind material. A new Age song started things off with Richard on drums, Tim (synths, Theremin and vocals), Dave Brock on synths, Dibs on bass. The rest of the band Niall also joined on certain songs and some people left sometimes as well. The highlights were for sure The only ones and Mirror of Illusion with Dave playing the harmonica and guitar. The only Ones was a huge surprise (and not played the day before). A cool song from the Hawklords. Since they started so early only about 150 people saw this set.
Set List: A new Age Song, St. dolane, Digital Nation, Green Finned Demon, Tide of the Century, The Only Ones, Mirror of Illusion
Elves of Silsbury Hill
Technicians of Spaceship Hawkwind was next and this was basically the guys in Spacehead doing Hawkwind songs. They were also joined by Huw Lloyd Langton for long spaced out versions of Masters of the Universe and Ejection. Huw was looking frail and was playing some ok guitar but he was very unfocused and all over the place and you could see the band was struggling to have any understanding of where he was going or when he was going to stop. The sound was pretty terrible during this set and unless you stood in the very front you could not hear Huw anyway until I convinced the soundman to turn the guitar up as we were tired of just hearing bass and drums and vocals and noise. The guy who was supposed to make synth sounds with them, his synth died and he left the stage. Not that good a set. [Ed. Note - Huw has been struggling with illness for years. In 2001 he contracted Leionnaires Disease. And in October of this year he was hospitalized with kidney failure and was on dialysis.]
Set List: Born to Go, Master of the Universe, Ejection
Question time was very funny and you had Richard (and a badger hand puppet), Huw, Mathew Wright, Dave, Kris and Niall. Tim Blake showed up in the last 2 minutes. Everyone had a really good time with this and lots of joking and some serious answers as well. Both my questions were answered and it appears that the Roadburn DVD will be ready by Christmas and Kris said it was looking amazing. As for releasing all their live concerts, Dave said first that they did not record all their concerts to start with. Kris than said they were going to have a meeting with a company that does these instant releases. We will see. The only other really good question and answer that I recall is why has Warrrior on the Edge of Time never been properly released and when will it happen. It seems that Doug Smith holds the rights and he and Lemmy hate each other or at least Lemmy hates Doug and won't have anything to do with him after he mismanaged Motorhead in the late 70s and 80s. So it all depends on Lemmy signing and he is willing to if Doug has nothing to do with it. So this is still sitting in limbo.
Tarantism is a pretty cool folky band with acoustic guitar, drums, bass and a large woman who sings and plays woodwind instruments. They played about 45 minutes and still had a decent crowd to watch them. We sat on the floor and had a beer and enjoyed them They would be much better at an outdoor festival. They also remind me of the band Culture Shock as well. Fun set.
Bob Keer's Whoopie Band was next and this was funny and strange. What do you expect from a guy who was in the Bonzo Dog Band! Bob Keer and Dave Brock used to be neighbours in the Ladbroke Grove in the 60s and it was Bob who let the earliest line up of Hawkwind jam in his basement. Anyway, they were silly and played all kinds of 20’. 30’s jazz stuff as well as a few New Orleans style stuff but always funny and crazy stuff. Very entertaining.
Huw Lloyd Lantgon was next and I have to say this was pretty sad and disappointing. It is time for Huw to retire. Huw is old and frail. These are the same songs he has played 1000 times and he basically can't sing anymore and when he does, then he looses track of where he was in the song and the songs go all wobbly until he finds his feet again. The set started off with him on acoustic guitar and Dave Brock on harmonica doing some old blues standard. Next up was a very strange and disjointed Rocky Paths. Terrible, actually. The Fifth Second of Forever was pretty decent actually but he was still all over the place. Tim Blake joined in and played some Theremin on some of these tracks as well and ended up playing harmonica on the next track after Dave never showed up for a pretty terrible version of Hurry on Sundown. The crowed loved it just because it is such a classic Hawkwind song but in reality this was an awful version musically. Huw basically wanted to stop at this point but seem to be told to go back out and play so he and we suffered through Smokestack Lightning and some song I don't know. Phew...
Set List: Blues with Dave Brock, Rocky Paths, The 5th Second of Forever, Hurry on Sundown, Smokestack Lightning, ?
Huw and Dave
After maybe 10-15 minutes the stage was set for the real deal, Hawkwind. We were standing right in the middle 20 feet from the stage and besides some tall folks in a pretty good position. The sound was the best for Hawkwind but still not that great as you could not hear Niall unless Dave was not playing and in general the guitar was just too low and the drums thin and distant. Oh well, the lights and set list made up for this as we head off for 1 hour and 45 minutes of killer space rock! The classic Assault and Battery>Golden Void started things off. Then a really great spacey, dark version of Lighthouse was played and Bob Keer came out and played a trumpet solo! Dave delivered Space is Deep and this lead into the best version of Lighthouse I have ever heard! It was long, dark and spacey. Angels of Death saw Dibs and Niall on bass, for an extra heavy bottom end and killer visuals and dancers. After a couple of ok hard rocking new songs Spirit of the Age started and this featured Toby from Banco de Gaia on guitar and Capt.Rizz on vocals. Pretty cool version. Silver Machine in the middle of the set was quite a surprise and this featured Mathew Wright on backing vocals. A short straightforward version. Sentinel, a Dibs track that sounds a lot like Spacehead, not surprisingly. Lord of Light was really cool to hear and this was jammed out nicely with Tim and Niall taking nice solos, although the later you could basically not hear at all. You could see him ripping it up on the guitar but I could not really hear him at all. Barely. Magnu into the last verse of Brainbox Pollution was amazng as well and Tim played a very cool synth solo. I was really surprised to hear You better believe it, which is a song I have never seen the band play before and again Niall had a long solo you could not hear. The Right to Decide I had not heard the band play for years. The band came out for two encores, a long cool spaced out version of Hassan I Sabha with Capt Rizz again and then the show ended with an 80’s Hawkwind track that has not been played in 25 years called Fahrenheit 451. What a day and it shows that after 40 years this band can still deliver a true space rock show with great psychedelic visuals, some spaced out jamming and a great vibe. Let's hope for at least another 10 years.
Set List: Warriors (poem), Assault and Battery>The Golden Void>Where are we Now, Lighthouse, Space is Deep, Angels of Death, Wraith, Green machine>Spirit of the Age, Silver Machine, Sentinel, Lord of Light, Poem, Magnu>Brainbox Pollution, You better believe it, The Right to Decide, Hassan I Sabha>Space>Hassan I Sabha, Fahrenheit 451
Reviewed by Scott Heller