Gig review: HAWKWIND, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 24 August 2013

A very full and enthusiastic crowd tonight, possibly larger than usual as the band are playing the whole of their classic ‘Warrior On The Edge Of Time’ album, in sequence and recently re-issued on Cherry Red Records.

I have seen the band twice previously, at a storming gig at Keele University back in the late 1980’s, and a couple of years ago at Guilfest where they were not so impressive. Happy to report to tonight quite possibly the best gig yet I have seen by them.

Led by Dave Brock, the line-up includes the returning Dead Fred (Hawkwind band members past & present have great stage names it has to be said) on keyboards/violin/vocals who was last in the band back in the mid-80’s and Tim Blake on theremin is quite hypnotising to watch. The only other time I have seen this instrument used live is by John Otway.

Starting off with ‘The Awakening’ which was followed by ‘Master Of The Universe’, ‘Steppenwolf’ and ‘The Hills Have Ears’, before the main reason for tonight’s gig the full performance of ‘Warrior On The Edge Of Time’ got underway.

Hawkwind certainly know how to put on a show, from the undoubted musical prowess of the band through to the spectacular visual light and picture show going on at the back of the band.

Plus you have two dancers doing some bizarre am dram at the front of the stage! The ‘Master Of The Universe’ album is a real fantasy fiction meets space rock treat, aided by the lyrical input of SF/fantasy author Michael Moorcock (do read his Elric novels well worth your time).

‘Standing At The Edge’ and ‘Kings Of Speed’ were highlights for me and the crowd were loving the show put on by the band. Special mention to drummer Richard Chadwick, who drives the music along nicely, never taking over the songs and an integral part of the band’s sound.

Two encores, the first ‘Motorhead’ dedicated to former member Lemmy who is currently recovering from illness. To say the crowd went wild would be an underestimation and one of the blokes next to me was in space rock dad dancing heaven! ‘You’d Better Believe It’ rounded off a fine night of music and one which saw the band on good form.

Hawkwind may not grace your music collection much or you may only know ‘Silver Machine’, either way they are one of those bands you really need to see live and on their day, like tonight, prove why they have endured so long and retained such a large and loyal fan base.

Review by Jason Ritchie


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