Bedouin - Cambridge (UK), Boat Race (April 21, 1999)

From Aural Innovations #7 (July 1999)

This was the long-awaited return of Bedouin to Cambridge. As Shaun (a fellow member of Cambridge Rock Society) said, rounding up to the bar "apres rock," "So why didn't you just say that Bedouin are the band led by an insane ex-Hawkwind bass player who is not just-a-little influenced by Lemmy? That would have explained everything!" Oh, I thought I had! There was a lot riding on this gig. I'd done my best to convince everyone I know that they MUST SEE THIS BAND. Spacey: like the Veil Nebula. Heavy: Like a black hole on speed. Loud: Like pushing the button on the last of the red hot suns. Oh, yes... in space they *can* hear you rock...

Luckily, term had just started at the university here, and people were cruising into the Boat Race (our pub-sized venue) a little after eight. We were a bit worried, as there was no sign of a band; only a synth and a lonely bass drum sitting on stage. No matter. Beer was acquired, consumed, (repeat), and all the while more friends and relations drifted in. We were beginning to become more seriously alarmed, but perhaps a bit after nine the band came rushing in and hurled equipment onstage. Good, I hadn't just dragged everyone down here for nothing. Alan checked the bass was working, and a ruinous noise rocketed out of his amp to roll up and down the fretboard before trailing off in searing feedback. Looks were xchanged. Grins were cracked. This boded well.

I had promised Jim Lascko (of Strange Trips) to deliver Alan a message, but it was clear things were a bit manic, so I figured it could wait until post-gig. I checked out the "toy stall," but there wasn't too much. Lots of flyers, some random CDs - no T-shirts, alas, as they could have sold some (instead, everyone's money got ploughed back into beer, I think!). No video from the London gig last autumn, as they guy producing it apparently sodded off on holiday right before the tour. And, of course, still no real album - though the word from Alan is that EMI Germany are making interested noises. No fools, they...

So without too much further ado, Bedouin set up, cranked up, and took off! There had been no real soundcheck, so the sound started out a bit iffy, but in the end most of it was coming straight out of the amps anyway. With the vocals brought up a bit to compensate, everything sorted itself out in short order, though Alan asked for more bass in his monitors on occasion.

There was a *lot* of bass going on. It's not exactly news to say Alan has taken a page out of Lemmy's book for approach. I mean, the man decided to play bass after hearing Lemmy's solo on "Time We Left" off of 'Doremi Fasol Latido' waaaaay back when. And I can't fault the choice. So: massive bass-in-yer-face assault from Alan. No one is going to confuse Danny Thompson, Jr. with Simon King or Richard Chadwick, but he holds things down solidly enough on the percussion end. Sean Massey provides a good complement to Alan, with lazy, loping, effects-drenched guitar lines weaving around in a hashishin kind of way over the warp-core detonation of the bass.

There was a lot of new material. They actually started with something I didn't recognize. Heads were nodding, feet were tapping. Then Bedouin fired off into "Queen of the Night" (I think) and the hair starting flying, people were grooving. Ohhhhhh yeah. There were bunch of other new tracks, and some subtle little additions to beef up the old ones. Lots off of Alan's 'Bedouin' solo album. Also the very cool remake of "Wings" (which blows away the 'Space Bandits' version), "Sword of the East" (introduced as "Sean's Trouser Snake"!), and "Sputnik Stan"; of course, one of Alan's best. Fast, heavy, the bass solo went into *hyperspace*. No guitar, just drums and bass - but, man! No weak dance-club music could boldy go where this one went. Insane. Crunching back to the reprise, massive feedback, Alan bounding around the stage, huge drawn out final chords. But there's more. "Chasing the Dragon", for example ("Do you like fast ones?" They do...) Riff, counter-riff, space, above, beyond... sundive. Ship : Sun : Boom.

No one really seemed to take the end of set that seriously. Just keep playing, guys! 'Cause we all now you're coming back to play. "This one's dedicated to my's called "LSD!" It is impressive to see this put into the setting of a spontaneous three-piece - and the other Hawkwind escapee-tracks in the set likewise. Not tied to a fairly close arrangement any more, it's fairly clear that the band can spend a lot of time zooming around *inside* the song, twisting it this way and that, more or less however they feel like at the time. There is a lot happening in here that you won't hear on the studio recording (Hawkwind's 'Electric Tepee') nor in the live HW rendition from 'The Business Trip.' That, and it's louder, heavier, and burns on re-entry. After this, people are shouting for more (knowing they aren't already guaranteed to get it) but the lights come up and the house music flicks on and there's no hope. Ah well. But everyone is well-pleased (as they should be), and I'm not beaten up for dragging everyone to a lame gig.

Yeah, it rocked a bit, you could say. Yeah, I think some people might just go see them again when Bedouin tour this autumn: they damn well SHOULD!

After the gig, I deliver Jim's message to Alan, who mysteriously recognizes my name from somewhere; darned if I know why. He explains the delayed start to the gig - the ever-popular van break-down. This, he says, is why they didn't play anything from 'Captured Rotation' (arse!), because they had to cut several numbers to finish by their 11pm cut-off point (arse!). In summary then: Bedouin came, we saw, everyone rocked. Do what is necessary to see this band. One would be hard-pressed to beat them for psychedelic heavy rock and they put on a damn fine show.

Reviewed by Carl Anderson

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