18 November 2019
@The Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge
On a chilly November eve in Cambridge, a large and expectant audience
of space cadets gathered to pay homage to one of Britains most
celebrated psychedelic rock bands.
Formed in 1969 the same year as yours truly a
year also famous for the first moon landing and the Woodstock festival
Hawkwind were on their 50th Anniversary Tour.
Although I was familiar with the Hawkwind story
and the legend that surrounded them, such as playing at the Isle Of
White festival entrance gates and Jimi Hendriks coming down to jam,
and the antics of former bass player Lemmy getting sacked by the band
for taking the wrong drugs, I was not so familiar with their songs.
I was unsure what to expect but looked forward to the musical journey
I was about to embark upon.
From the beginning, the skills of the musicians and their obvious
love of the material they were delivering was reciprocated by the
Cambridge audience, of largely middle-aged men, who were loving it.
The music was also augmented throughout the show by a bold and clever
light/laser display high above our heads. The centre piece was a big
screen at the back of the stage continuously rolling, often psychedelic,
projections featuring a mix of Hawkwinds original films and
other space themed material.
Showcasing the abilities of vocalists and original founder Dave Brock,
the evening opened with rousing and emotional delivery of Motorway
City, Flesh Fondue and Last Man on Earth.
Like a warm fat embrace, their selection of songs had a wonderful
rock but other worldly vibe to them, emitting a wistful charm. They
were clearly enjoying it too, lots of banter between the band with
young bass player Haz Weaton often chatting and cracking space jokes
with the audience.
Songs such as 65 Million Years Ago and Spirit Of
The Age followed to keep the momentum going and then, to my
pleasant surprise, they gave us the famous number one hit Silver
Machine the only song Id actually recognised so
As the night progressed, I started to understand the influences -
rock, punk, jazz, electronica, soaring melodies, mind-blowing solos,
psychedelic imagery and a sense of complete musical freedom. I even
picked up a bit of what I thought sounded like The Stone Roses at
one point! It was ace.
They played some epic songs to finish the set off with Assault
And Battery and Hawkwinds protest song called funny enough,
Right To Decide. They left the stage to rapturous applause
and were beckoned back by the space cadet crowd for an encore. They
returned and played Hurry On Sundown which to my surprise,
was another of their songs that I recognised! It had an acoustic folky
feel to it that I had heard before and enjoyed strangely, I
could also hear The Beatles and Oasis in there too. They finished
their Cambridge show with Master Of The Universe, another
70s Hawkwind anthem.
Although I didnt know what to expect, I left the gig a Hawkwind
fan and felt privileged to have seen them live. If you are a music
fan, then you are also a Hawkwind fan. Go see them while they are
..but dont look inwards
upwards and outwards into space!
Words and Pix - Dan Sly
Thanks to Simon at Chuff Media for sorting this
out for us