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Live In London, 2002

Review by Bruce Stringer

H had originally planned to see Hawkwind play Birmingham during the December mini-tour, however - due to cancellation - I ended up heading down to London's Walthamstow Assembly Hall, in the north-east to see them play their yearly Christmas show.

I managed to speak with Bedouin's sound engineer Andy and Hawkwind's bassist Alan Davey during Tim Blake's keyboard sound check. Both Andy and Alan proved to be humorous and very friendly, considering I had no right to be hanging out at that point. Having one of those 'it's either now, or never' moments I mentioned to Kris Tait (Dave Brock's long-time partner) that I had brought my video camera with me and that if the band allowed me to film the gig I would hand my tapes to them after the show. Kris pulled me aside and introduced me to the guys working on sound for the evening, who were also filming digitally from a tripod. I was allowed to film as long as the tapes were in fact handed in, so I my experience of the concert was from behind an 8mm camera. This was quite interesting as my enjoyment was based on my own ability to get good angles and zooms… Definitely an interactive experience!

As I steadied my 8mm an ocean of smoke poured from a smoke machine to my left and the mighty Hawks took to the stage. But someone was missing: Huw Lloyd-Langton had recently been knocked out by the flu so was unable to play this night. At this point, I knew that the band was faced with a huge undertaking; how would they perform without their newly re-appointed axe-man? As soon as Spaceship Hawkwind blasted off into space I think that any doubt concerning their ability as a performing act disintegrated. Alan Davey filled many a spot with some great bass improvisations and Tim Blake's synth playing filled out the sound. Even Richard Chadwick rocked out on a few numbers allowing Captain Dave to guide the audience on an outstanding journey.

Arthur Brown appeared on a few numbers and excelled on Silver Machine. His presence brought back a kind of Robert Calvert atmosphere, but was truly on his own ground. The catalogue of songs played during the evening suited this line-up proving that they still had it. Alan Davey stole the show with his fantastic brooding bass work making up for the lack of a guitar soloist. At one point my arms began to shake from holding the camera at eye-height, however I steadied myself and kept filming the guys (even catching Dave Brock smiling in the background!). The Hawks put on a fine performance, which was reminiscent of Space Bandits meets In Search of Space meets Do Re Mi meets…. A really great show!

The mix was great and I hope that a video of the show surfaces for everybody to see.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 3 at
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