I make no secret of the fact that I like nothing about bonfire and firework season and when the chance to go and see some legendary space-rockers in my home town of Hastings on November 5th presented itself, it was the ideal escape.This particular concert at The Carlisle had been advertised months before in many national prog rock forums and gig guides although having seen no real advertising locally for it up two weeks before I started to wonder if it was actually going to happen. I personally only noticed a poster appearing about 10 days beforehand and this lack of publicity probably goes some way to explaining an attendance lower than I expected.
For those who are not aware of the history of the Hawklords, they were originally active between 1978 and 1979 and were formed of members of Hawkwind, who were inactive during that period, namely Robert Calvert on vocals, Dave Brock on guitar and Simon King on drums. They were joined by Harvey Bainbridge on bass and Martin Griffin on drums who were both from a local Devon group named Ark. The band was completed by the addition of former Pilot keyboardist Steve Swindells. In 1978, the band released their first full studio album 25 Years On and as far as I am aware, the band last appeared in Hastings on 25 November 1978 as part of their 42 date UK tour in October and November of that year. In 2008 a new Hawklords formed around bass player Harvey Bainbridge and ex-Hawkwind vocalist Ron Tree, who were joined by drummer Dave Pearce (ex-Bevis Frond), guitarist and keyboard player Jerry Richards, and bassist Tom Ashurst. Apart from Ron Tree who had mysteriously gone absent before the start of the tour, this was the line-up the appeared at The Carlisle.
The set began with a piece called ‘Out Of Phase’. Having seen Hawkwind earlier in the year at Folkestone, I could have been forgiven for thinking this was Part Two of that concert because this was Space Rock in its purest form. If you asked me to define Space Rock I am not sure I could do it… apart from its spaceship like electronic noises acting as a backdrop… it is just one of those rock genres that you just know it when you hear it. Jerry Richards supplied the wonderful driving guitar chords and licks in typical space-rock fashion and was more than capable of providing the band’s lead vocals. As frontman for the band he also provided some humorous wit throughout his introductions. Bassist Tom Ashurst looks the youngest member of the band, and along with drummer Dave Pearce they supplied the gritty strength that the music demanded from its backing. Harvey Bainbridge looked like the mad professor at his keyboards and his witty vocal accompaniment to ‘Whisperer’s Downfall’, a track from their latest album, rather reinforced this for me. Indeed, having whispered to my friend Chrissy Brand standing next to me regarding my observations during the song, I became the subject of Harvey’s vocals…..’Look, she’s whispering’. It was like being caught in the act by teacher! Rather interestingly throughout the gig, I became aware of a number of recognisable musicians around me and it seems that Hastings has somewhat become a bit of a magnet in music terms. Members of Bevis Frond, Liam Glenocky (Steeleye Span) and Adrian (Ade) Shaw (ex- Hawkwind, Country Joe McDonald, Arthur Brown, and the Deviants.) took their place in the audience alongside me. The members of Bevis Frond were clearly there in support of their ex-drummer Dave Pearce, and towards the end of the set Adrian Shaw made an appearance on bass during ‘Flight’. The set had an interesting mix of older and newer compositions although I only detected ‘Free Fall’ as a remnant from their earliest days and curiously only ‘Ghost In My Machine’, ‘Whisperer’s Downfall’, ‘New Space’ from their most recent release (Hawklords Six). Also included in the set were a few cover versions ‘The Right Stuff’ (Robert Calvert song) and ‘Coded Languages’ (Hawkwind). Tom Mahler’s psychedelic lighting produced the ideal backdrop whilst Joe Rytlewski took charge of the sound, which all resulted in a kaleidoscope of intergalactic audio pleasure.
So all in all, a thoroughly entertaining evening that provided the perfect alternative to rockets of a different, and rather less attractive variety. I had said earlier that I had seen Hawkwind earlier in the year and found it a thoroughly enjoyable concert. To see Hawklords as some sort of poor-man’s Hawkwind would be an insult to them because to my delight I found Hawklords equally enjoyable with an equally enjoyable variety of space rock. Whilst I am no nearer to defining space rock after seeing The Hawklords, I continue to stand by my theory that I will always know it when I hear and see it. I certainly heard and saw it on Guy Fawkes night …. it is alive and kicking and in good hands with The Hawklords. Sarah Harvey – November 2017
Dave Nattress… As with your review of Curved Air Sarah, I found this review really entertaining, a great read. Makes me wish I’d been there. My (known), or self-acknowledged space-rock experience is pretty much confined to Hawkwind from the several pier gigs and festival appearances. One festival at Nutley many, many, years ago there was a band called Amon Din (I think), who I think may have had some association with Amon Duul but then maybe they just had a contrived name. I don’t know though on reflection I must have some space rock in the collection somewhere. For sure, I’ll dust off “In Search of Space” later for starters. It will be a dust off as I only have it on vinyl. I might even try and read the log again. What about some Flaming Lips, is that spacey – don’t mention him, or just weird?