Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Hawkwind @ Skyfest 12 July 2009

Review by John West

Photo by Simon Bamford

It’s a pleasant summer evening on arrival at Biddulph Grange Country park to see headline band the legendary Hawkwind celebrating some 40 years playing their own brand of cosmic space rock here at Skyfest. The band have survived many line up changes, personal tragedies and an ever changing music scene, however leader and guitarist Dave Brock has taken his band through all of this, developing and pushing the Hawk sound through many musical genres yet pioneering a sound and visual presentation which many bands site as an influence namely the Sex Pistols, Queens of the Stone Age and dance acts such as the Prodigy and the Chemical Bros.

The event has been organised by Gemma and Chris Connelly of Sky Studios based in Biddulph. It’s a well organised affair very chilled out and family orientated. The crowd although varied in age and displaying their particular interest in alternative culture be they hippies, bikers ,ravers or the interested locals it’s a nice environment to be in very much different to my experience the previous day witnessing Oasis at Wembley. This crowd are here to see Hawkwind and listen, not throw beer etc into the crowd it’s a more civilised affair.

First off were the winners of the Skyfest battle of the bands the energetic and youthful All about Eden who gave a promising performance. Next were Crave who had travelled from Northern Ireland and were well received with their particular brand of Lizzyesque rock urging the crowd to sing along and get moving. Finally Essex metal band Forevernever pulled a sizeable crowd with there nod to a Slipknot vibe going down extremely well.

As Hawkwind arrived on stage they were joined by two dancers appearing like some characters out of a greek tragedy with their white masques of death and sythes swaying on stilts to the sound of these musical warriors on the edge of time. The band were thoroughly enjoying themselves and certainly put to shame a lot of today’s bands who seem more concerned with image and hairstyles than the actual music. With Hawkwind it is very different, as the music is the important factor which is enhanced by a dazzling lightshow and projections depicting weird sci-fi landscapes, liquid projections and Manga art.

They are truly on form as they groove out fan favourites “Orgone accumulator” “Assault and battery” the anti war song “Who’s gonna win the war” and the eastern tinged “Hasan I Shaba” . The effective use of guitar and synthesizer is paramount and with a pulsating rhythm section and effective use of a theremin it’s not difficult for the audience to drift away and soak it all up discovering another musical world. Hawkwind are not rooted to hippy nostalgia they have evolved yet remain adrift from the mainstream music scene continuing their own journey of being musical pioneers and without knowing setting the trend for others to tap into and take to a wider audience. Long may they continue bringing their own brand of cosmic space age rock grooves and if you like you can get on board their spaceship. As a fitting finale they asked the organisers to get up on stage and thanked them, a very nice touch to the end of the evening. In the meantime I’m off to find a stone circle and some ley lines.


No comments: