Hawkwind - Rock & Blues Custom Bike Show (Pentrich, UK) 7/30/99
Bedouin - The Rigger (Newcastle-Upon-Lyme, UK) 7/31/99
From Aural Innovations #8 (October 1999)
This event featured the first Hawkwind performance after an absence of about 20 months by our very favourite band. (Well, apart from a rudimentary incarnation that appeared at Strange Daze '98.) We started our journey from the western part of Germany at 4 AM, driving my car packed with five people through the Netherlands, Belgium and France to Calais, where we took a ferry (we don't like the Chunnel - too dangerous...) to Dover. Then it was another 250 miles to go. No problem I thought, but at the London orbital we got stuck in some queues which really put us off. The sun was boiling us in our car, which has no air-conditioning. Around 5 PM we finally got to the Pentrich Biker festival, a small city of tents, cars and of course, thousands of bikes which covered the fields in this hilly, beautiful countryside - an incredible sight. It hadn't rained for days, so we were covered in dust whilst making our way to the entrance. Twenty-five pounds was a reasonable price for a 3-day festival including camping. We erected our tents and then went straight to the festival site. There were no showers available there, but there were a fair number of toilets, food stalls, and lots of other stalls selling clothes, spare parts for motor bikes, etc. We bought ourselves some beer and rested in the sun watching Dumpy and his new band playing some 60's rhythm and blues stuff, and some brave folk doing bungee-jumping. A relaxing atmosphere was all around.
While we strolled along the site we met Mr. Dibs of Spacehead at a stall who introduced us to Martyn Needham of Dr. Hasbeen. Dibs told us about all the reasons why the Buxton Festival had been cancelled which he had organised. In short it was because of some last minute conditions which they couldn't fulfill in such a short time, in fact just a week before the festival. Dibs had spoken to Dave Brock that morning who told him that Hawkwind had practiced a real spacey set for Buxton, but for this event they would do a more heavy gig with some more of their classics due to the fact that this was a biker festival. They rehearsed "Hippy" that morning, so we hoped that they would do it with possibly another few new songs. Other bands were playing that evening too, but nothing spectacular. I remember that an AC/DC cover band was on stage at some point. At 10 PM we went nearer to the stage where two girls were doing a striptease and some barebreasted dancing, which was, well, quite nice! Then a woman played some Janis Joplin songs on acoustic guitar and around 11, the Hawklords finally took the stage! By that time it was dark and thousands of people gathered round the rather small stage.
Hawkwind started with "Aerospaceage Inferno" which was a great opening track. There was no sign of Capt. Rizz - what a relief! The lightshow was a bit disappointing, just two slide projectors and some normal stage lights, but it worked well. Next track was a reciting of that old Calvert poem "Wage War" by Ron, who read it off a giant piece of paper. Good to hear that poem again, the words still sounding fresh after all these years. After this, the synths dove straight into "Motorway City." A great surprise this was and a very clean version as well, with really great vocals by Dave. Jerry did his own version of Huw Lloyd-Langton's lead guitar playing which really took us back to those Levitation days. If I'm correct they hadn't played this song since 1988. Next we heard a beautiful rendition of "Assault and Battery/The Golden Void," always a pleasure to hear, especially when it's so well done. And "Golden Void" was done with an extra three-minute appendix which I first thought was a new song. But after it was over Dave said that this was simply "The Golden Void." "Alchemy" is still a nice instrumental piece, sounding again like the Ozrics. Then we witnessed a totally new tune sung by Ron, a slow one with some great guitar playing and an unusual song structure, *very* unusual, but it'll grow with every listen I can assure you! This was followed by THE highlight this evening: "Arrival in Utopia," my very favourite song of the 80's HW era. It just sent shivers down my spine, I'd never heard such a heavy but beautiful version! And the dancers were smoking huge fake joints, drinking fake wine from big cups and scattered large lines of fake cocaine across the stage - an image that fit perfectly to the great Moorcock lyrics.
Well, could it get better? No, but "Master of the Universe" was done in a very different way, at least during the middle part of this 10 min version, with some very 'stoned-like' chanting by Ron, similar to "I Am the Reptoid". "Assassins of Allah" was next, as usual coupled with "Space is their (Palestine)," in fact pretty uperfluous if you ask me. We've heard this same version for ages and there was really nothing new this time. I just can't stand it anymore. Same with "Blue Skin," another exact reproduction which almost soundedlike a playback version from the 'Love In Space' album. Maybe it's all because of that sequenced and programmed stuff in those songs that leaves no place for improvisation. If that wasn't enough of a downer they launched into "Brainstorm." At least this one didn't lead into that horrible reggae middle part! Instead we got an all-new version of "Sonic Attack" which really was different from all versions before. Then it was back into Brainstorm and suddenly it was all over. Of course they came back for an encore: "The Gremlin," short but great. And next came - well, what else? - "Silver Machine." They were joined by Dumpy on guitar and vocals, who was celebrating his 50th birthday. I have to admit that this was truly a magnificent version with the three guitars and vocals by Ron, Dave, Jerry and Dumpy. And that was it, 90 min. of an almost-perfect HW concert. I really missed "Hippy" though, and "Spirit of the Age." But we were all very much satisfied with this set. Tired but confident we went to sleep.
Next morning we had some breakfast, packed up our tents and left the festival to drive to Newcastle-Upon-Lyme and see Bedouin that evening. It was again very hot so we sweated like hell in the car, and smelled like skunks! We relaxed a bit in a pub, drinking some beer, went to HMV and bought the new Ozrics album, went to an Italian restaurant and satisfied our stomachs, and finally got to "The Rigger," a rather small rock pub. Bedouin were supposed to play at 8:30 PM, but in fact they didn't begin until 11. Who cares?, we thought. It was a very tight and heavy gig, the best one I've seen by them in their two years of existence. All in all, they ran through their usual set but with two new songs. Especially great were "Wings" - a far better version than all HW versions - and "Sputnik Stan" with an incredible bass solo in between - you'd have to hear it to believe it! The audience was really into the music and everyone was very cheerful. Well, I really hope they will be getting more attention by a wider audience soon, they deserve it. According to Alan they will support Motörhead on their next European tour, and there are chances that this great show will be released by German label SPV in a few months! After the gig (at 1 AM), I drove us safely back to Dover, fetched the first Hovercraft (where people turned up their noses at us - we still hadn't seen a shower) and finally arrived home at midday. Ah well, never before has a shower felt so good! And I instantly fell asleep afterwards... I won't ever do a tour (or torture) like this again! On the other hand, we really had a marvellous weekend!
Reviewed by Andreas Stüwe