This was the last gig for the bands 50th anniversary tour and there had been a lot of great reviews of the tour and the new album. My wife and I have seen Hawkwind a lot of times and were excited. We arrived early to find the box office and the tour bus was outside and out comes Richard so we can chat with him for a minute and he was very amused about Eric Clapton playing with them! Dave came out and we said hello but he more or less said Hi and just kept on going.
Anyway, we had a nice meal at a pub not far away and met some great Scottish HW fans (Mike, Shawn, Peter, Paul). Lots of cool people. We met a couple who came all the way from the North of Sweden and later a guy who came all the way from Australia. I thought we had come far.
We had great seats just straight in front of Dave Brock in the first seated area. 20£ for 500ml of wine was crazy.. Sue got a t-shirt with the tour dates on it. A nice touch was there were these small Hawkwind flags with different album covers printed on them on the seats. I doubt they did all the different albums but I saw at least 10 different albums (Warrior, 1st, Doremi, Hall, Chronicles, Masters comp, Blood, Space Ritual, etc…)
Blackheart Orchestra opened as on the rest of the tour. This duo makes nice music but does nothing to warm you up and certainly provides no challenge to Hawkwind. A beautiful female singer with a nice voice and a guy who also sang well and played guitar, bass, but mostly keyboards. They had some pre-programmed stuff. They got a cordial welcome but no one really wanted to hear them.
I thought the sound was really good where we sat but it was very low. Never even hit 100db on the decibel meter at the sound board. IT was clear but lacked some balls. At least for most of the set, Dave was loud and clear. As they did on the whole tour, they started with Motorway City. Tim did a great job and is a massive boost to this line up although he plays most of the leads on synth that Dave used to play on guitar! Fantastic lights and projections. I had never seen them with lasers before. The Born to go into You shouldn’t do that and back into Born to Go was one of the highlights of the show and it was good they played it early but they played 4 of the new songs, two of which Magnus, the keyboard/guitar player sings, and they are quite boring songs. Especially the long one, The Fantasy of Faldum, just drags. Lots of people went to the toilet as I did as the cue was massive. The new songs just don’t stand up to classic HW at all. So that was nearly a 3rd of the concert sort of wasted if you speak and just brought the energy down (except for the Flesh Fondue, which rocks but is actaully an old song called Star Cannibal)). Phil Campbell from Motorhead joined for The Watcher (don’t care for the way Magnus sings it) and Silver Machine. Sadly, you could barely here his guitar contribution. Assault and Battery-Golden Void was really nice to hear but I miss the great guitar solo. Tim does a long solo in Golden Void which is nice but still miss the guitar. The Blackheart Orchestra did some backing vocals during The Golden Void but were essentially inaudible. This would have been interesting with Eric Clapton the night before. The show ended with The Right to Decide (Jah Wobble) did some backing vocals that you also basically could not hear)and Hurry on Sundown, which was a real highlight of the show for sure. Excellent.. Master of the Universe that was a bit jammed out. Phil joined again and he was even lower in the mix than before. Such a waste. Dave finished it all off with a very short version of Welcome to the Future. It was about 1hr 45mins with no encore. The audience was really screaming but they did not come back out due to the time restrictions.
Dave was singing extremely well considering they had like 10 gigs in a row before this last one. This being the biggest and most important on of the tour you would think Kris would have given him a day off. It is what it is and for 78 the guys still fucking rocks and is amazing. Richard and Niall were just awesome as the rhythm section. Both play hard and heavy! Overall, it was a bit disappointing, one of the poorer of Hawkwind shows I have ever seen, mainly due to the new material. Still one of my favourite bands and I am glad that I came to the show.
Set List: Motorway City, Flesh Fondue, Last Man on Earth, The song of the Gremlin (Spoken Word-Dave), Born to go-You shouldn’t do that- Born to Go, 65 million Years ago, Spirit of the age, The Fantasy of Faldum, The Watcher*, Silver Machine*, Assault and Battery, The Golden Void, The Right to Decide, Hurry on Sundown, Master of the Universe*, Welcome to the Future
(* Phil Campbell)