Hawkwind live and kicking
Monday October 23th.
It's an away day special. I'm off to see Hawkwind in Northampton and catch up with leader singer Dave Brock. He's been so amazingly helpful in giving interviews and information about for my book on Rockfield studios.
I leave Cardiff on Monday afternoon for a meeting at the new Ricoh Arena - the home of Coventry City football club - about a radio project. All goes well and it's off down the M1 to Northampton.
So I arrive in the town a day early and find that the Travelodge I've booked is on the outskirts of the town in what looks like a Industrial estate. Except here its called a 'Leisure complex'!????!!!???! Overlooking the local football team's Sixfields Stadium is a sprawling site featuring nine resturants and a cinema. That's it!!! I've seen more life in old reruns of 'Blind date'. The only things around are a Franky and Bennys, a Bella Pasta, a TGI Friday's, macDonalds, and a place which serves everything whether its Mexican, French, Italian, japanese etc called the Red House or Red Hut or Red Hot Dutch!!! I can't remember which. . It's deeply depressing.
Then things take a turn to the worse (as if that was possible). "Where's the bar?' I ask the receptionist at the hotel. She gives me a baffled look. "The bar," I repeat. "Where is it?" "There's no bar in this hotel" she says looking at me as if I've gone mad and am asking room service to serve me moon cheese on shark fin toast.
So in despair I trudge out of the hotel in search of beer. Luckily one of the venues in this 'industrial leisure estate of death' is a themed 'Hungry Horse' pub restaurant. They serve alcohol. They serve alcohol. They serve alcohol. I step inside and immediately feel slightly better. A few pints later and I feel I can brave my dingy hotel room and wait for tomorrow to come early.
Tuesday October 24th.
10am: I venture into Northampton Town centre. It's no better. A crumbling midlands town with a depressing air about it. At its heart is a small market selling tat - desperatley in need of an exocet missile attack to put it out of its misery. I speed around the shops buying a newspaper or two as quickly as I can and head back to 'The Norman Bates Motel!'
3pm My friend Andrew arrives from London. He's here to take pictures of tonights gig for my book Rock Legends at Rockfield (on the famous studios in Wales which played home to the likes of Queen, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Oasis etc etc). We immediately head for the safety and shelter of the Hungry horse pub. Mid-afternoon beers are the order of the day. So a pleasant afternoon is spent mulling over the lastest news and fortunes of Cardiff City football club (still top of the Championship), films, music and life in general.
We grab a cab to the Deco theatre where the band are playing. We pick up our backstage passes and head into the venue. It's a bizarre theatre with a standing area in a small cavernous-like space on the ground floor. And then plush theatre seating upstairs. The audience filter in and make their choice. Those more smartly dressed head upstairs for a comfy seat. Those more informally attired - shall we say - stand at the front of the stage awaiting the arrival of the Hawklords. The smell of dope wafts through the air. Some are hardily able to stand and the gigs still a good 30 minutes after from starting.
In the bar area we mull over the future acts to grace the Deco: Jethro The comedian (or 'Your kidding. A comedian???), Curtis Stigers (for £27. Blimey.) The illegal Eagles tribute band and a pantomime starring no-one I've ever heard of. They must surely all be Northampton legends whose fame has not yet spread as far as Cardiff or London.
9pm - When the band arrives, its in a blaze of light and some amazing slideshow projections. (Though later the band are unhappy with the light show and say some of the lighting system hadn't arrived in time to be used on this their first date of their autumn tour) It's is mightily impressive though (See ANDREW PRITCHARD'S pictures above). But even more impressive is the sound. The band are on top form. The sound is excellent and songs such as Psychedelic Warlords, ROBOT and Spirit of the Age are outstanding.
And the big surprise - for the encore they don't play Silver Machine but instead thrash out a fantastic rendition of Motorhead. A great way to end a superb gig.
Backstage we wait for Dave Brock as the stage crew clear away the masses and masses of equipment.
Later on the tour bus - we reminisce about the bands time at Rockfield. Dave and bassist Alan Davey recall the fishing trips outside Rockfield's rehearsal studio, The Old Mill House. Alan recalls catching a fish so big it would feed the whole band the next day. But he remembers saxophone player Nik Turner popped down in the night and scoffed the whole fish - including head, brain and eyes, bones, tail everything!!!!!. "The greedy bastard" is how Alan sums up having his prize catch devoured by a crazed - probably high - member of Hawkwind in a midnight raid.
The tour bus is oldish but looks comfortable. At the back there is a semi-circular leather seating area and The Davinci Code is playing on the DVD player. After 20 minutes of chatting I decide to leave before the bus drives off with me and I end up in Cambridge where the band play the following night.
So Andrew and I catch a cab back to the Trav-HELL-lodge for some warm cider which I've stashed in my room as an emergency. It's been a great concert and Hawkwind are top blokes. If you can catch them live - do so!!!!
24th November Deco Northampton
Musicians: Dave Brock -Guitar and vocals Alan Davey - Bass and Vocals Richard Chadwick - Drums and vocals Jason Stuart - Keyboards
Setlist ---- Right Stuff; Psychedelic Warlords; Orgone Accumulator; Paradox; Robot; Out Here We Are; Greenback Massacre; poem; Lord Of Light; Images; Infinity; Hassan-i-Sahba; Space Is Their; Hassan-i-Sahba; Encores; Spirit Of The Age; Motorhead