Warriors on the edge of time...
This is a good time for Hawkwind to be headlining the second stage at Guilfest, fresh on the back of the release of their first studio album in five years (Blood Of The Earth). For those of you that don’t know, Hawkwind have been around for over 40 years now, were the originators of space rock and over the decades their popularity has gone up and down like a yo-yo!
They get a good crowd in front of the Good Time Guide stage and it’s a strong start with old favourite ‘Angels of Death’ providing the accompaniment to the customary projections and light show. The sound is decent but not great but as they move into new track ‘Sentinel’ the performance is augmented by the arrival onstage of their two female dancers, who continue to crop up throughout the set, each time changing costume (including stilt walking clad in silver sea creature outfits!) and performing choreographed routines. It’s unfortunate that they only get an hour for their set, not least as most Hawkwind songs clock in at over the five minute mark, so it was never going to be a lengthy set list.
‘Lord of Light’ sounds great tonight and precedes another couple of tracks from the new album (‘Wraith’ and ‘Prometheus’). Dave Brock seems happy to take a back seat and let bassist Mr.Dibs take centre stage and introduce songs as well as providing lead vocals, at which he does a good job. Ex-Gong member and long time Hawkwind collaborator Tim Blake is still with them and provides solid synth parts along with the occasional theramin wobble.
Hawkwind at a festival is always a little bit special and they prove tonight that they still have the ability to get into your head and draw you into their world. It’s good to have ‘Magnu’ back in the set and it sets up a finale of Tim Blake’s ‘Tide of the Century’ and a fantastic version of ‘Assassins of Allah’, the latter containing an instrumental break in the middle where the band just nail it, mixing almost drum and bass beats with electronics and their traditional thumping rollercoaster wall of sound.
Too short yes but Hawkwind have got everything else right tonight, mixing enough new songs in there to prove that they are very much a going concern and far removed from being a nostalgia act. The general consensus as they leave the stage is that they’ve impressed. I wouldn’t say that they are back to their best but the injection of some new(ish) members has given them fresh impetus and they are all the better for it.