Nik Turner and Friends - Gwyl Ystalafera, Wales, July 21, 2000
From Aural Innovations #12 (September 2000)
Rather naughtily perhaps, this gig, in a big top on a rugby field in the valleys of south Wales, was billed as "HAWKWIND" (in big letters), with "Reunion" in much smaller letters beneath; but the posters did also list the line-up. Well, sort of; Simon House was invited but either declined or couldn't make it, and Dik Mik was on holiday in Spain. But the remnant was most of the Hawkwind line-up that played outside the Isle of Wight Free Festival in 1970: Nik Turner (sax, flute, lead vocals), Huw Lloyd-Langton (guitar and vocals), Thomas Crimble (bass and vocals) and Terry Ollis (drums). And in addition, two keyboards/electronics/whooshy-noises players.
Thomas, I understand, had been working in production for most of the intervening time, and Terry had been in a variety of jazz and blues bands, and latterly, a Hendrix tribute group. Not the most promising of backgrounds, maybe - so the big question was, we knew what Nik and Huw could do - but what about the other guys?
Well, if that was the question, it was fairly comprehensively answered! Thomas was rock-solid on the bass and backing vocals, and Terry was a revelation - a real Hawkwind drum machine, sounding every bit as fierce as he did back on IN SEARCH OF SPACE. They both loved it, too, even if Thomas seemed endearingly unused to performing on stage.
The set included, reasonably enough, a lot of very early Hawkwind material: "Be Yourself" and "Seeing it as You Really Are" from HAWKWIND, and "You Shouldn't Do That" and "Master of the Universe" from IN SEARCH OF SPACE, as well as "Somic Attack" (to open), "Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear in Smoke)," "D-Rider," "Brainstorm," and of course, "Silver Machine." All were attacked with gusto and spawned massive jams, held together by Terry and Thomas, while Nik and Huw soloed like mad.
Nik was on absolute top form - for a guy approaching his sixtieth birthday, he sure has an awful lot of energy! Heck, he has a lot of energy for someone half his age. The setting was cool, the lighting was simple but effective (lots of strobes), and the music was loud, intense, and exactly as Hawkwind should be - only the absence of Dave Brock stopped this from being a real flashback to thirty years ago.
The main set closed after the longest version of "Silver Machine" that may ever have been played, and then the band reemerged for a long, long jam in the old style, that took in "Motorway City" and "Spirit of the Age," before the engine seemed to splutter and die. As the clock struck roughly half past one - the organising committee included two local policemen, so no worries about a curfew! - the crowd of fans and locals, old and young, went home very happy! It's to be hoped that this lineup plays some more gigs, and maybe even forms the nucleus of the promised reunion concert...
Photo Gallery available here: http://www.andy.gilham.btinternet.co.uk/gwyl/gwyl.htm
Reviewed by Andy Gilham