Hawkwind have played at the Princess Pavilions on several occasions but I had never made the trip to see them until recently. These guys have been around in some form since the late ‘60s and still have a large cult following. Their style is often described as space rock or psychedelic rock, but to me, it is more of a progressive, hippy rock. Their hit song, “Silver Machine,” on which Ian Fraser Kilmister AKA Lemmy from Motorhead did the lead vocals is probably the band’s best known song and I must admit, it is the only song in their huge back catalogue that I had heard before. I remember this song well, but not from it’s original release as I was only a year old at the time. However it has been re-released several times over the years and also been used on many television adverts. With all of this in mind, I had no idea what to expect but was looking forward to being entertained by some very talented musicians and hearing this classic track. As I sat in the pit and waited for the opening act, I couldn’t help but glance behind me at the crowd; with all the grey hair on display I felt rather young amongst them.
After just a The support came in the form of Tim Blake who stood at the far left of the stage with an amazing device called a theremin, a laptop and a Roland AX Synth or keytar. Having problems with his foot pedal, he apologised and informed the waiting fans of the trouble, telling them that he would have to work his laptop by hand. With a rather strange style of playing, mixing both his keytar and theremin, he created a sound that to me sounded very much like Jean Michele Jarre and I found it rather interesting to watch the way he mixed both instruments to create his sound. For the last song of his set he added some vocals, and lets just say, he hasn’t got the best singing voice and should probably stick to the instrumentals. As he thanked the fans, he received warm applause and left the stage as the curtains were drawn.
After just a short break the curtains went back to reveal the stage again and Hawkwind walked on to entertain a nearly sold-out crowd. I noticed that opening act, Tim Blake, was actually a member of Hawkwind and this was the reason he played the opening set on the left of the stage, as this was his position for the Hawkwind set as well. Playing the whole of the classic 1975 album Warrior On The Edge Of Time in the order that it had just been re-released by Cherry Records, they already had enough for a full set but also added many others songs to play for a solid ninety minutes.
The band were joined throughout the night by different characters dressed in weird outfits with some unusual dance moves that I found a little strange, but this made for a great talking point afterwards. The band members were rather poorly lit but this was because behind them were some very impressive videos playing on a large screen along with some rather fancy light shows and effects. The sound was good but after hearing several songs, I couldn’t help but think it all sounded rather similar and I eagerly waited for the one song I knew just to see if this also sounded like everything else they were playing.
Although in my opinion, the songs sounded similar, the show, as a spectacle, was well worth watching and I found it hard to take my eyes off the stage in case I missed something. I did, however, have a quick look around and the elderly fans seemed to be enjoying what they were seeing and hearing. The band dedicated what was to be their final song, “Motorhead” to Motorhead frontman and one time band mate, Lemmy who has had a few health issues recently. The band left the stage after this song and the loyal fans waited for the band to reappear, even as the venues lights came back on, as the band were listed as playing until 11PM but had finished some fifteen minutes early.
Not knowing any of the songs played, I still found the show very enjoyable and wouldn’t hesitate to go and see them the next time they tour in my neck of the woods. With their mix of music, lights and dancers, the show was a big hit with me and from the look on peoples’ faces as they left I should imagine everyone else enjoyed this gig as well. My one obvious disappointment was that the band didn’t play their best known song, “Silver Machine” and I don’t think I was alone in this feeling. Whether this was because it did not fit right with the band’s earlier songs and sound or because it was a big hit due to the vocals of Lemmy, I guess I will never know why they didn’t play it but there is always next time.
The Awakening, MOTU, Steppenwolf, The Hills Have Ears, Assault & Battery, Golden Void, Wizard Blew His Horn, Opa Loka, Demented, Magnu, Standing At The Edge, Spiral Galaxy 28948, Dying Seas, Warrior On The Edge, Kings Of Speed, Assassins Of Allah, Seasons, Reefer Madness, Motorhead.