Gig Review and Photography by John Bentley

Hawkwind

Hawkwind are one of those legendary bands that seem to have been around forever. Much of their reputation comes from their superb live shows, which are audio-visual extravaganzas, featuring psychedelic lighting and dancers. Their current tour showcases their classic 1975 album ‘Warrior on the Edge of Time’ – plus a few other old favourite songs.

Hipiersonik

The support band tonight are hipiersoniK. How many support bands have you seen where you don’t even get to find out what the band are called? Probably lots, but this isn’t a problem with hypiersoniK, as they conveniently have their name and website projected in lights to the rear. A sensible move. Then singer and electronics man Marcin takes the microphone and explains to us in very clear English that they are from Poland and, with a grin, explains most of the songs are in Polish. They play a set of interesting jazzy-techno. The song that stands out is the one that Marcin tells us we may have heard before. This turns out to be an enjoyable interpretation of King Crimson’s ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’, complete with megaphone and sax, just like the original.

Hawkwind

Hawkwind’s ‘Warrior on the Edge of Time’ album is generally regarded as one of their very best, but the CD has been unavailable for some years. However, it’s now been re-released, so the band are marking the occasion by playing the whole album live in concert. The album is as perfect an example as you can get of cosmic rock and was inspired by one-time collaborator Michael Moorcock’s science fiction writings. Its epic driving space rock explores the eternal battle between order and chaos and there’s classical mythology and wizardry in there too. This is acted out on stage by dancers dressed in exotic costumes and sometimes towering over the stage on stilts.

Hawkwind

You don’t really have to know Hawkwind’s music inside-out to enjoy it. It sounds modern because no other band was really like them and they’ve incorporated a whole load of genres into their material over successive albums. So there’s something for most listeners, whether you like guitar rock, techno, synths, psychedelia, or whatever. Also in concert Hawkwind are a totally absorbing audio-visual spectacle like no other and you just need to surrender to the totally spaced-out  fantastical experience.

Hawkwind

Dave Brock is leader and the only original member of Hawkwind. Countless musicians have passed through the band’s ranks over the years (often returning for further service). The current line-up includes long-serving members Richard Chadwick (drums), Tim Blake (keyboards), Dead Fred (keyboards) and Niall Hone (guitar / bass).

Hawkwind

The gig starts with vocalist Mr Dibs, looking sinister in large leather Stetson hat and sunglasses, performing the spoken recital, ‘The Awakening’, from the Space Ritual album. These fantasy spoken tracks are a bit ‘marmite’. You might love or hate them on record, but in a live show they help link the songs together and seem to be totally in context.  Next they launch into the classic riffy ‘Master of the Universe’ from the same album. Five tracks in and they start to play the ‘Warrior’ album in its entirety, commencing with the epic ‘Assault and Battery’.  Along the way there are some great songs like the majestic ‘Magnu’. It ends with the rocking ‘Kings of Speed’, which has a real hook, and is not what you might expect as typical Hawkwind. Played live, with the lighting and visual effects flashing onto the rear of the stage and the dancers performing at the front, the whole thing is a total experience that sounds and feels amazing.

Hawkwind

Having played through the album, the band embark on some more old favourites. ‘Reefer Madness’ is quite fun, with demented images of stoned folk and tabloid newspaper headlines flashing on the back screen, suggesting smoking dope makes you kill people and other daft things. So they do a bit of social commentary as well as the more ethereal stuff. Then we get their big hit ‘Silver Machine’. Originally written and sung by Lemmy (now of Motorhead, of course) during his time with Hawkwind, Dibs’s voice doesn’t quite fit this song so well. However, the main set ends with ‘Hassan I Sahba’, which really does suit his voice. This pounding track with its distinct swirling middle-eastern flavour is a real highlight this evening, delivered as a deliciously extended work-out.

Hawkwind

For the encore we get the epic ‘Utopia’, with Metropolis-style images projected onto the rear screen. This morphs into ‘Seasons’ and then, after a two hour set, the gig is over. You get the impression that they would have played on if there hadn’t been a curfew. The band genuinely thank all their fans in the packed-out hall and then we are all emptied out onto the slightly less cosmic cold and damp Wolverhampton streets.

Hawkwind

Setlist: The Awakening; Master of the Universe; Steppenwolf; The Hills Have Ears; Assault and Battery; The Golden Void; The Wizard Blew His Horn; Opa-Loka; The Demented Man; Magnu; Standing at the Edge; Spiral Galaxy 28948; Warriors; Dying Seas; Kings of Speed; Reefer Madness; Silver Machine; Southern Cross; Hassan I Sahba. Encore: Utopia; Seasons

One Response to “Hawkwind + hipiersoniK at Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, UK – 6th November 2013”

  1. simon trenholm Says:

    I was at the 02 Academy gig Nov 10th Newcastle,great gig the sound reproduction was one of the best I’ve heard,no real high frequences that punish your ears,lovely deep clean bass that just throbs away at your chest…and asa usual Hawkwind know just how to play the audience,saw them at Holmfirth in July and M’oro Town Hall May 2012…which was poorly advertised by the venue/local council,but still put on a good show.Sunday night main highlight was anextended version of Hassan I Sahba,which you could not help but dance to….Hawkwind are going from better to better,seems that thay are as good as any 40 year old Malt…mellow but still have one hell of a kick in them…….can’t wait untill next tour.

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