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Progressive Rock DVD/Video Reviews

Hawkwind

Out of The Shadows DVD

Review by Bruce Stringer

Of all the Hawkwind visual records this is the best quality and includes a classic stunning Rodney Matthews cover illustration and a slightly odd collection of songs. Performed at Newcastle's Opera House in the UK it was one of, if not the, last performance of Huw Lloyd-Langton with the group on this tour. The playing is solid yet it does come across unashamedly under rehearsed. That does add to the magic of their performance, though.

Boasting 5.1 sound and a digital film master, the DVD had a lot to live up to, as some of the previous video releases have been more of an independent creation. Songs span from classic Hawk tracks to guest Arthur Brown's solo songs and even Bob Calvert numbers. As a fan I felt the selection very daring and covering many bases, almost creating a conceptualised performance from scattered ideas. Tim Blake (last seen on the Levitation tour) makes a welcome guest return along with Huwey.

After some brief level testing and synth sounds, "Aero Space Age Inferno" blasts off and the rocking number takes you onto a journey into the heavier realms of Hawkwind. Arthur Brown's distinct vocals make his presence felt as Huw plays some cool licks under the piece, embellishing what could easily have been a more stagnant rock song from any lesser-inspired group. Pulling back the reigns, the piece allows Dave Brock to explore his guitar neck in an earnest attempt at some very interesting rhythmic passages.

"Angels Of Death", the rocky mainstay, suddenly bursts onto a stage of subliminal visuals and is a high energy number taken to new heights by the blistering repetitive runs from the maestro, Mr Lloyd-Langton, and Ali Davey, armed with his Rickenbacker. A Space Bandits number and title of the DVD follows; "Out Of The Shadows" has a less sparse sound than the synth textured version of a decade ago and works really well with the two guitars.

"Time Captives" sees the return of the crazy, but gentlemanly, Arthur Brown. I first heard this at the sound check at Nottingham's Rock City in 2003 and it was new to me, therefore it is great to hear it here. With so many interesting songs included we fall on familiar ground with "Master of the Universe". Another kicking version and made especially novel with Arthur singing the wrong lyrics over Davey's vocal harmony. Huw blasts away on his Nighthawk, countering Richard Chadwick's tight staccato drumming, looking fitter than he had previously and playing like a demon.

They segue straight into a bizarre piece, the "Song of the Gremlins". Featuring an unnerving strangeness, relieving the ears by the smooth slower sections. There are some visual communications between Captain Dave and the other members and a couple of bum notes but the magic is there. The classic "Hurry On Sundown" follows and is a favoured inclusion in its relevance to today's issues. It's a great little version that compels even the least vocally talented of us to try and sing along with Mr Brock.

Keyboard wiz, Tim Blake, has kept a pretty low profile so far, adding synth sounds and spacey textures to the set. However, he features playing the brilliant "Lighthouse" (which first appeared in the Hawkwind live set around '79 / '80) which is captivating in that Jean Michel Jarre way. For me, a highlight of the DVD. Allan Davey takes us back through the years doing his best Lemmy impression on "The Watcher". Bass driven and slightly laid back, the guys all look like they're having a great time working from a cool chemistry.

Another live favourite, harkening back to the Calvert days, is "Assassins of Allah". It's based on a cool riff, and it's always great to hear Huwey soloing over the piece. Dave Brock jumps onto his keyboards as Chadwick plays some tasty rhythmic percussion, eventually leading into a techno-style dance beat. Huw juxtapositions the "Eleanor Rigby" vocal line over the top before the guys burst back into the 'space rock', man.

"Earth Callin" is punky, tight, and improvisational. Pure old-style 'Wind. These guys obviously love jamming it out under the flashing lights of psychedelia! "Sonic Space Attack" (- "Sonic Attack", Arthur Brown style) takes the audience into the trip out zone that the Hawks made famous so long ago. Not my cup of tea, but there is a humorous element to it all. This rocks out more than previous versions.

And where would these guys be without their biggest hit single "Silver Machine"? Arthur Brown's vocals effect a stamp unique to his style. A great version and it's Mr Brown's talents that take it to more mainstream rock territory… even if he doesn't exactly know all the words - fantastic!


A bonus of the DVD is the 1 hour Dave Brock interview, which is what I would think every fan has always wanted. He talks us through the history, the show, the line-up changes, the swinging London of the 60's… The Captain seems jovial and offers the viewer an interesting and unique insight into the legend of Hawkwind.

This is a complete effort and a brilliant visual document that every fan should invest in. The only fault is that the 'consistently mis-spelt names' syndrome that had dogged the band throughout some releases appears once again but that can be forgiven. Next stop: the future.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
You'll find an audio interview of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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