Sound is the force of creation, the true whole. Music then, becomes the voice of the great cosmic oneness and therefore the optimal way to reach this final state of healing.” Hazrat Inayat Khan
Festivals & gigs, Music, Music technology, Radio
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All sounds of the earth are like music.


Hawkwind : Roundhouse 26/05/2017


The cloud rising up from the crowd bellow ,was so dense it could have been cut with a knife

What is Hawkwind?  Is it a band? A Sci-fi cult? A punk band? Heavy metal? An acid cult born out of the late 60's in Ladbroke Grove? Is it a Church? Is it Prog? Is it Trance? Is it free Jazz? Is it an extension of Michael Moorcock's Imagination? Is it a sonic interpretation of Ray Bradbury and J.G Ballard's visions of Dystopian nightmare visions that are coming into full reality as I pen this right now? Is it a political statement? For me, it's all these.

I first discovered the band as a boy. I can remember hearing 'Silver Machine' when it was released and my first encounter with the bands album output was through one of my old school friends who had  a fold out cover vinyl 1971 pressing of 'In Search of Space' that had left been left when his mum and dad had rented a room to a lodger. It had a deep scratch on the A side that gave 'Masters of the Universe' an even weirder kind of 'detached from this earth' sound than the original Atlantic Records production had given it, like an almost Lysergic dub sound enhanced by Dik Mik's homemade synthersizers .

My very first live experience of the band was in about 1981 at the Roundhouse (a rough bootleg exists of this gig on the Hawkwind bootleg emporium) I was about 15 and with two of my best school mates - we had taken the underground to Finsbury Park, and had wandered into the Sir George Robey, a pub that I was later to spend a lot of time in and saw many of bands. This was the place that Michael Dog started Club Dog - later metamorphosing into the Megadog. The pub was packed and we decided to head into the gig. I think we started downstairs. The Rainbow inside was not really dissimilar than the Academy in Brixton, with a balcony and fake palm trees either side of the stage on balconies. A thick white fire curtain had been lowered between the main section of the stage where the bands equipment was set up and a man wearing WW1 flying uniform and a leather pilot helmet was trying to sing and play a keyboard. I later found out this was Bob Calvert - he had completely lost it that night. I can then remember a large man with a beard appearing on stage and a fight breaking out and it was Calvert actually trying to strangle the man with the beard. I later found out this was the cult Sci-fi writer Michael Moorcock. They were then both dragged backstage and disappeared behind the fire curtain. At that point, an illusionist rolling gold fish bowl-sized crystal balls along his arms and making them defy gravity and disappear with a cape came on. He also blew fire balls. I later found out this was Magic Michael. When he finished it all went black and we went up to the balcony to watch the band who came on all wearing white lab coats.

As a boy I witnessed things that night that even in the peak  of the rave scene I never witnessed. For one, the air in the Rainbow was so heavy with Afghani black hashish that I got stoned on it. The cloud rising up from the crowd bellow was so dense it could have been cut with a knife, sweet and fragrant as it had been since man learnt to make it.  It must have been something to do with Howard Marks. When the band finally finished, all the people downstairs carried on dancing for about five minutes afterwards. It was also the first time I had seen a proper back projection designed to enhance the ambience of the crowd. 

It's odd that Hawkwind and other contemporaries of the time and before all used Liquid Len and the Lensmen who started doing the light /back projections for Pink Floyd in the UFO and Mother Earth in the 60's. I have a theory that because Hawkwind were never a product of art school, that is the reason why hardly any early footage is in existence. Hawkwind were using the NASA Space footage projected on a massive screen and a 1930s black and white cartoon of someone being put out on nitrous oxide and the cartoon becomes the main characters hallucination played out to Valium 10.  

Since that evening in 1981 I think I have seen them over fifty times, mostly before 1991 when I went separate ways from it. I think it was the Astoria Hawkarkestra gig that was a turning point for me - and the Astoria gig with Lemmy and weirdly Samantha Fox. Then about five years back I got back into it. It's only Dave Brock left from the first incarnation ,but it is his band and its always had a moving line up and thats why it kept on changing .Nik Turner has just lost a court battle for the name in the states ..Its incredible that at 75 years old they were both still fighting it out .My favourite period is the Calvert period. Calvert was basically a poet so his use of English language in songwriting and also his avid absorption of literature produced a descriptive depth that was pretty unique. Check out Freefall for example. 

The band now are probably as good or better than ever. When I was walking up to the Roundhouse, Mr Dibbs who is now the keeper of the sacred scrolls of the Hawkwind past and present was watching the people arrive from the outside top balcony. The fan club had put up the American fan club organizer and taken him on the tour with them, putting him up and keeping him amused. I spotted him on the other side of the road looning about in a state of pure Hawkwind joy. The crowd go right through from people in their 70s to teenagers - it was like a coming together of the tribe. Tonight they had Phil Campbell opening for them, so it had a even more connection with Lemmy that night (Campbell playing in the last Motorhead line up before Lemmy bucked medical science and was finally killed by death).

So back to the gig. They started an acoustic set and then went full on. They have a Polish free jazz sax player in the line up that gave it the cosmic jazz edge and the set moved through the vast back catalog into the new. The present release and the Machine stops are superb. My highlight was the re-working of Steppenwolf off Astounding Sounds that almost had been given an acid funk to it. It's a killer riff. Mr Dibbs was moving like the man wolf. He had spent most of the gig obscured by one of the wrought iron support roof struts to the left of my central positioned seat purchase.

When I left the concert I walked up to the Spread Eagle to collate my experiences. Parkway in Camden has a lot of memories for me. My father had offices on it up till the early 80s and I lent up on the bar with a pint of Special piecing together the lay out before the many re-fits. The first and second World War historian A.J. P Taylor used to sit reading a broadsheet newspaper in the alcove seat where Delancy Street meets Parkway every week day evening. I also thought about my friends who I first saw the band with Kevin who died at 18 whilst doing motor cycle dispatch riding on acid. Ironically,. he hit an ambulance in Hounslow and it killed him stone dead. And Joey - who died from a massive booze -related stroke at 35...

And then I thought about the Hawkwind that are still with me to this day. Like some kind of psychedelic security blanket that had wrapped round me and kept me safe, through some pretty crazy times. My old school mate Simon was going along with me that night, but couldn't make it, which was a shame. 

I shall just use the lyrics "Living in the future, living in the past " 'cos I defiantly was that night.

As for the listening bits, I am including Palace Springs. I was at the Hammersmith gig where their lightshow designer had somehow managed to project match stick men running around the circumference of the stage and the Brian Eno produced Captain Lockhead and the Star Fighters - not a Hawkwind release, but a concept album about the re-building of the German Luftwaffe after the second World War written by Bob Calvert and featuring Vivian Stanshall. It is one of my favourite albums of all time.

At Campfire Convention 001.UK I had to talk to Brian. I am normally quite reserved but I just had to interact with him, even for the short while.  I haven't been able to post the two latest releases on Cherry Red because the record companies still trying to sell the record. Try Spotify for checking it out.



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