Hawkwind’s tour in May was a treat for fans, with them supporting themselves as an unplugged act, This CD has both the more familiar trippy bikerdelic space rock (I will use “bikerdelic” until it is officially adopted) and some of the earlier acoustic set, a mellow section which was rather more enjoyable than I expected, being personally generally suspicious of acoustically style rock. They left “psi power” off this disc, but you can’t have everything. The album was recorded at the spiritual home of the 70s London Underground, the Camden Roundhouse, where Hawkwind last played in 1977, doubtless at an “all-dayer”. Camden has lost the alternative edge it once had (Compendium Books, etc) for a depressing mix of gentrification and student tat, but Hawkwind did their best to bring it back for the evening, and probably played better and with better gear (no snickering, hopheads) than back in the day.
Soon we are back with the more familiar swirling synths, echoed vocals, recited science fiction-poems, stentorian chords and riffage, with hypnotic jams bringing on flashback moments for some listeners. Those jams … anyone who met “Julie” back in the day, will most likely remember her if they listen to this, so this album might not be one for the car. A mix of old (“Born to Go”) and new (a slightly punky “Vegan Lunch”) with a number of classics not played, one could never accuse Hawkwind of going through the motions. Numbers are played with a verve and they sound like they are enjoying what they are doing, in turn receiving much love from the audience.
My review copy didn’t have the DVD of the concert with it, but the concert I saw in a far smaller venue had the again “evocative” visuals one expects of the band, and will be a treat for viewers wanting to re-experience the band in all their glory. Don’t like this sort of thing? Good: we don’t want your sort around if that’s how you feel, this is for freaks,hedonists, and those who get it: you know who you are, and we recognise each other.