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Thursday, 4 April 2013

View From The Back Of The Room: Hawkwind

Hawkwind Cardiff Coal Exchange

Thanks to Paul Hutchings for his review

I had been waiting for this gig with unexplainable levels of excitement. I can’t put my finger on what it is about Hawkwind I love so much and maybe that’s it. How do you categorise them? At times completely bonkers, often wandering off into different orbits but always with that swirling space rock sound that is so definitely theirs. The Coal Exchange was the destination for their latest visit to Cardiff and a healthy turnout greeted the support band. A Polish trio whose name I’m afraid I’ve totally forgotten (They were apparently Hipiersonik - Ed). They were good value though, playing fusion type jazz rock, plenty of saxophone and sampling, rapping and generally a little different.

Onto the main event, and with the audience swelling, mainly due to the expansion in waistlines, Hawkwind took to the stage. Throughout the show there was an ever changing psychedelic backdrop which amply supported the dancers and various creatures that prowled the front of the stage. I’ve always loved the fact that they take a little bit of trouble to put on a show and this was no exception with some great lighting too. As for the music, well, with 26 albums to choose from it is always hard to know what will come at you but some things in life can be predicted. Set opener Master Of The Universe was a given, with Dave Brock content to leave the imposing Mr Dibs to take centre stage on vocals and bass/cello. To his right Tim Blake prowled with his keys, but never far too far away from the apple Macs that run much of their trade mark space sounds. The band moved into You’d Better Believe It, which really did head off on its own for a good while before they powered through two tracks from 2012’s excellent Onward, namely Seasons and The Hills Have Eyes.

Then it was back to 1975 for the Warrior At The Edge Of Time. Now even though I was 5 when this first came out, I’ve always loved the album and it was a joy to see it performed. Opener Assault and Battery Part II is an all-time classic and the album also contains one of my favourites, Magnu. The audience were in their element, many of the old school singing along to ever track, whilst the band were extremely tight, and throughout it all maintaining that unique space rock sound that drives through the heart of all their stuff. All too quickly Kings Of Speed (no prizes for the subject matter) brought the main set to a close and was quickly followed by wild card of the night, a lengthy rendition of Arrival In Utopia, before the traditional Silver Machine rounded off a great night’s entertainment. If you’ve never seen these guys live then give it a go next time - a truly magical experience. 9/10

Footnote: During the gig I got quite annoyed when the band finished Warrior At The Edge Of Time with Kings Of Speed as my version has the bonus of the original Motorhead as the last track. However, a bit of research has corrected my view and I am at peace with them once more.

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