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Hawkwind

Classic Rock Legends DVD

Review by Bruce Stringer

Another video from the Classic Rock Legends archives and this time it's the Space Bandits line-up of the mighty Hawkwind. Alan Davey (bassist) has claimed this to be one of his favourite periods and, given that it is a mixture of older as well as new talent, one can see a fresh injection of energy in the band's live sound. With a selection of songs from the Hawkwind catalogue featuring some of the material realised by violinist Simon House in the early to mid-1970's to the most recent songs, this DVD promises that '…this is your chance to join the sonic attack as Hawkwind power through a masterful set with a stageshow enhanced by specially invited guest performers'.

So, what does all this mean? When I read that Night of the Hawks was being played I bought the original video version hoping, somehow, that guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton would be making an appearance. He did not. Bob Calvert was a little too 'gone' to appear on Ejection, so who were these guest performers then? To break it gently I will only say that there are no 'musical guests'.

As Lives of Great Men (aka Assault & Battery) burst onto my screen I thought 'fantastic'. I was really impressed. Strange to see captain Dave Brock without any facial hair, but the grin on his face showed that he was indeed very happy to be there. It was interesting to hear this version with Richard Chadwick on drums bringing in a straighter, more electronic feel to the song. This segues nicely into Golden Void (Void of Golden Light) and some haunting violin work by Mr. House opens up the soundscape. One question: why the name changes to the songs?

Out of the Shadows, a newer tune, comes across quite strongly and Night of the Hawks a little soft. I was expecting Huw or Lemmy to make an appearance during Night…, however there is no appearance and the song falters with lack of the heavier guitar sounds of the original. This could be due to the arpeggiated keyboard sequence or the violin bits or the vocal improvisation which Bridgett Wishart gives us at the end. Back in the Box seems, to me, a return to the earlier Hawkwind sound and works really well with this line-up but what the hell is Bridget doing wrapping herself to a post on stage? I guess it's all for art sake.

Utopia starts and Wishart is carried off stage (still wrapped like a mummy) by a guy wearing a kilt. Utopia kind of fizzles out after a short interlude and then segues into the punkier Ejection which has a lot of energy and lifts the performance. We get to see Dave Brock's long-term partner, Kris Tait, doing her fire breathing act during the song.

It looks as though Simon House brought back with him some of the lost classics including Damnation Alley which ends the DVD. Alan Davey takes lead vocals (in place of the deceased Bob Calvert) and does a fine job of it, too. Part two of the piece goes into the reggae-ish feel which the Hawks explored further as a three piece shortly after this line-up was cut back. Bridget appears, once again, with a short set of lyrics and then disappears as Simon takes over and bursts into an animated solo while Dave improvises with wah-wah pedal underneath creating a cataclysmic dynamic before finally returning to the last vocal section. Great way to end, but a pity about the credits rolling over the track!

This is not in my favourite Hawkwind era and the DVD could have gone longer as it left out the best track from Space Bandits (- Images) and a great newer track, Treadmill which was played on the tour. Having said that, the performance is strong and it was great to see Simon House back in the band (considering he has just returned again in 2003!). It is a good effort and great introduction to Hawkwind on film.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

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