Hawkwind will soon be entering
their 43rd year of space trucking and it's customary for Hawkwind to
take to the stage and produce some spacey effects. Tonight, Mr Dibs generated
effects on his electric cello before narrating "The Awakening", the
oldest track in the setlist. The band first did this Bob Calvert space poem in
1971, I believe. Dibsy has his critics,
but I think he's a good space poetry narrator, even if his dress sense does
raise a few eyebrows, but more on that in a minute.
The distinctive strains of
"You'd Better Believe it" then kicked in, and this is where I
switched my pocket camera off and started bopping around by the right speaker
My http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWfaoxJ3pGo" rel="nofollow - start-of-gig clip is on
youtube , if you want to see how a 2012 show kicks off. Sound quality is rough,
but it captures the 'feel' of the event quite well, I'd say.
The Hawkwind squad
Over the years, Hawkwind's line-up
has seen more squad rotation than just about any other band: hell, even Rafael
Benítez would be impressed. This
continues into individual gigs, too. At the Bridport gig, people further back
from the stage might have thought the distorted wah-wah guitar riffing was
coming from Dave Brock, but it was Nial Hone... and Brock made a
"showcase" gesture with his arms at one point, as if to say "no, it's him doing it, folks!"
Incidently, Hone is the newest
member – he joined in 2008, from the psychedelic prog band Tribe of Cro.
Dibsy would be playing bass on
these tracks, but during other pieces, Hone would switch to bass duties, and Mr
Dibs sometimes used a weird figure-of-eight object – an electric cello.
Meanwhile Tim Blake generally plays keyboards or the theramin, but did the lead
guitar on some tracks, on his keytar. Prior to the gig there were rumours of a
surprise guest (what, rumours among Hawkwind fans? – wow) but as it turned out
there weren't any.
Mr Dibs surprised a lot of us by
coming onstage in a kind of black kilt, and chunky calf-high boots with arrays
of silver buckles, and with bare legs showing!
The Hawkwind setlist
This current tour promotes the new
studio album "Onward."
Naturally enough, there was some new stuff, some from that rather good
"Onward" album, but older fans were comfortable with hearing the
likes of Hassan i Sahba, Sonic Attack, Assault and Battery / Golden Void,
Damnation Alley and Psychedelic Warlords – all of these dating from the "golden
age of Hawkwind" in the 1970s.
Love in Space was a surprise return to the set, though, a Brock cosmic ballad
from the mid 1990s.
One oddity is that the new album makes heavy use of dynamic
range compression, and during "The Hills Have Ears" I was listening to
Richard Chadwick's drumming and Nial Hone's guitaring, and I reflected that it
sounded clearer live than it does on the studio album. Now, I call that weird.
And so the tour is under way...
Hawkwind's blend of old and new stuff was performed in a
pretty high-energy way... and the band looked like they were enjoying
themselves. No "first night nerves" then, or any loose bits; they
looked well-prepared and just got on with the biz. The night was extremely hot in the other sense of the word, too, as most of us were sweating profusely.
Next stop for me is the
Southampton gig in just over a week, and I'll be interested to see if there's
any differences in the setlist or performance.
For now, I'll just say the Hawkwind legacy of space rock is still safe
in Dave Brock's hands,