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Hawkwind and Matthew Wright
Mad scientists Hawkwind

Hawkwind @ Tyne Theatre

What is it that makes seemingly ordinary blokes get up and dance like a madman posessed? Warlords of the psychedelic world, Hawkwind, were the reason, and Rahul Shrivastava went to see why.

Start Date:04/12/2004
Genres:Live Music
Venue Name:Tyne Theatre
Venue Town:Newcastle

Hawkwind facts

The band have been active for 36 years.

The Sex Pistols opened their 2002 comeback gigs with Hawkwind's 'Silver Machine'.

Ex-'Page 3 girl', Samantha Fox, guested on vocals at a major reunion gig at Brixton Academy in 2000.

Other guest vocalists include the 'God of Hell Fire' Arthur Brown, novelist Michael Moorcock, and TV presenter Matthew Wright, who is accompanying the band on several UK dates.

Lemmy, of Motorhead fame, used to be their bassist, but was fired after a drugs bust. 'Motorhead' was the name of an old Hawkwind B-side.

The Tyne Theatre has been standing since 1867. It is the country's oldest working Victorian Theatre, in fact, and a Grade 1 listed building.

So when space-rockers Hawkwind landed there on Saturday 4 December 2004, with their ambitious sci-fi inspired lyrics, revolutionary psychedelic romps, and boasting a full futuristic stage show, who knows what the Theatre’s creator, William B. Parnell, would have made of it all.

Hawkwind's Richard Chadwick
On drums - Richard Chadwick

The audience were a mixed lot. There were ageing hippies clinging on to a bygone era, old rockers sporting Hawkwind T-shirts from all eras of the band, and dads were dragging along their sons to show them what it was all about.

The stage was set up to look like a laboratory, and when the curtain went up, there Hawkwind stood, dressed in long white coats, mad scientists ready to grab you and take you into their own, mind-expanding world.

Hawkwind's Alan Davey
Hawkwind's Alan Davey

Spirit of the Age was the first of many tracks to be attacked with gusto. Dave Brock’s electrifying guitar playing and Alan Davey’s pounding bass batting your senses. This is not a band that relies on the individual playing of the instruments, but instead creates an amalgamation of sounds from all concerned. It is the sound, quite literally, of Hawkwind.

"For a bunch of futuristic space explorers, it would be a sad thing if their sound was floating around somewhere in 1972."

In front of the band, two dancers unravelled themselves from their shrouds, playing out the creation of the android, one of the concepts featured on their latest album, Take Me To Your Leader. All the while, the band rocked on.

It was interesting to note how the band have employed the use of modern technology to keep their sound up-to-date, alive and fresh. Synthesizers and programming were employed to create sci-fi effects that tied in, and complemented, the melody of the songs. For a bunch of futuristic space explorers, it would be a sad thing if their sound was floating around somewhere in 1972. There was no chance of this.

The use of programming was no more evident than on the new track, Out Here We Are, which was a beautifully melodious trance soundscape. It is possible to see just why bands like The Orb or Ozric Tentacles cite Hawkwind as an influence.

The band performed more new tracks off their latest album, including the phenomenal To Love A Machine, that had some fantastic bass work, and a track called Angela Android, which saw the dancers take to the stage again. By now they were getting a bit distracting from the show however, and they were blocking my view of Dave Brock’s guitar solo.

Hawkwind's Dave Brock
Don't get in the way of a Dave Brock guitar solo

A superb rendition of the old classic, Psychedelic Warlords, was perhaps the highlight of the show, rudely interrupting another trance groove, by breaking out and grabbing the show by the scruff of the neck. Various members of the audience took it upon themselves to start dancing in the aisles, like madmen possessed, arms flailing, bodies contorting.

The gig finished with an almighty version of Master of the Universe, a track that lends itself much more to a live setting, rather than the more static studio version. Here it came alive. Heavy bass, ferocious drumming, and Brock’s grandiose lyrics condemning the state of the world. Magic.

One thing that struck me as I was leaving however, is that the band’s most famous track, Silver Machine, was not performed at all. Not that this is a bad thing. In fact, it felt quite comforting. It proved that the band really have upgraded their old silver machinery, and are truly ready for the 21st century. Or should that be 22nd?

last updated: 07/12/04
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Were you at the Hawkwind gig? What did you make of it? Do you agree with our reviewer?
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gilbert hall
sharted a flat in chelsea in 72 with simon king at the item the drummer of hawkwind, lemmy & dave lived in the flat below, does anyone know of simon nowadays?

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