Ah Hawkwind, the band that no matter where you went was always there in some form or other. Every party you went to, every festival, every house you crashed at someone would either be playing Hawkwind or a band like them would be playing. They were the constant between everything else. Last time I saw them was in 1992 I think – I had to go because I was stopping at someone’s house who was also going, and although I probably had a great time the gig was pretty boring from memory, just lots of people sitting down on the floor of the venue in little huddles smoking hash and being boring bastards, but those were the days before invigorating lightshows as standard, and you really needed to know some bikers if you wanted some amphetamines. Regardless, it seemed daft not to see them on their fiftieth anniversary tour, if only for the fact that Dave Brock is now 70 ( and the last surviving original member ), and given how long this band have been about I shouldn’t have been surprised to see so many familiar faces at this gig!
Well, doing a bit of homework things have certainly changed over the last couple of decades and unlike some of their dirge like 80s output the recent stuff is pretty driving – Flesh Fondue from All Aboard the Slylark isn’t bad, and there are plenty of releases to investigate apart from that. What were they like overall? Quiet at first, but this is Birmingham Town Hall after all. They played a lot of newer ( to me ) stuff to begin with, including one of the worst acoustic songs I can think it possible to write ( everyone was looking bored at this point but luckily some neon balloons bounced across the crowd to give everyone something to do), but some of the classics made an appearance – Assault and Battery, Silver Machine ( of course ) and then Hurry on Sundown at the end.
Nothing can really top Master of The Universe and that’s the one they use as an encore, with a great aerial shot of England giving a Hergest Ridge feel to proceedings. The wind of time is blowing through me…..
Now would also be a good time to mention the recent passing of Martin Griffin, original drummer of Hawkwind. Apparently Lemmy dissed him a fair bit for not being rock and roll enough, but it seems he lived a pretty good life and did a lot of good stuff. Come to think of it, I’ve drawn quite a lot from his drumming style without realising it. You see what I mean, they’re just so influential…
Overall they put on a great show with plenty of atmosphere. A bit like seeing Stereolab when they went all Moog disco. I really should delve into their more recent stuff and give them a chance. And lastly, it was great to see my old mate Arrrgs too, the bloody hippy!