"The Original Hawkwind" Reunion: Stairways Rock Club - Birkenhead, UK - July 15, 2000
From Aural Innovations #12 (September 2000)
The gig was at the Stairways Rock Club in downtown Birkenhead. We arrived at a nearby pub around 10pm and saw (Hawkfrendz') Trev Hughes and Thomas Crimble there. We had a brief chat. Thomas was a likeable chap and was looking forward to the gig, which we found out wasn't to start until midnight. I also had a little chat with Huw (Lloyd-Langton).
The hall was full, though not very large. The band put on a very good show, with the crowd clearly enjoying it. Nik Turner came onto the set in his Spiky Alien kit, and I have no idea how he could stand it in all that latex given the heat. Thomas Crimble was very solid on bass, with Terry Ollis absolutely excellent on drums - matching Simon King or Richard Chadwick at their best. As most will know, DikMik didn't make it, and they had a young guy (from the backing band?) making whooshy noises on synth.
They opened with Sonic Attack and closed with Silver Machine (Nik's alternative lyrics, washing machine and all) with Shouldn't Do That for the encore. I wasn't taking notes on the order, but other tracks played were Be Yourself, Psychedelic Warlords, Paranoia, Hurry On Sundown, Seeing It As You Really Are, Master of the Universe, Brainstorm (without the key change at the end). I'd have to check my tape to complete the list. Most songs involved a fair amount of jamming, and for me they were at their best doing this because of Nik and Huw's problems with the lyrics. Others said they'd have preferred a more structured gig, but I suspect that there wasn't sufficient rehearsal time to make that happen.
It seemed to me later in the gig that Nik was perhaps a little out of it, often singing words to other songs, or singing the same song, but out of time. It's hard to tell, since sometimes this is merely part of his "rock circus" act. Huw appeared to be trying to cover for him at times, but was a bit hoarse himself. Thomas Crimble was excellent at this point in continuing to sing songs straight and in a melodic voice. At one point during Hurry On Sundown, Huw was clearly failing to bring Nik back into line on the lyrics and did a deal with Thomas where whenever Nik sang a line, they'd each sing a different one, like a canon but with Nik's randomness - the effect was actually pretty good with that song and I'd really like to see this done more deliberately.
For me, the best track of the evening was easily Seeing It As You Really Are, a favourite of mine anyway, with Be Yourself a close second. The stars of the evening were without doubt Crimble and Ollis. Nik was just a little too out of it and only shone jamming his sax, with even the flute on Hurry On Sundown not really working very well. But as someone said, if one of the band is too gone to play, that's pretty authentic early Hawkwind too.
If any of you get the chance to catch them in Wales on Friday, do it. You won't regret it, I wish I was going myself.
Anyone: My tape break was during Seeing It As You Really Are, which was a bummer. If anyone gets a tape of this gig without that, I'd be very very interested in a trade. I also reckon my tape has suffered from being too close to the speakers.
Reviewed by Mike Holmes