I was pretty stoked when I received a message asking if I would like to photograph The Hawklords perform on their 2019 tour at club 85 in Hitchin. I last saw them perform last year at the Craufurd Arms, with a slightly different line up – Harvey Bainbridge, synth extraordinaire is taking a year out. He leaves some big astronaught sized boots to fill, and luckily stepping in to fill the void was Dead Fred, ex Inner City Unit and Hawkwind keyboardist. I was also really pleased to see Nik Turner, one of Hawkwind’s founder members had made the gig, after him not being at Milton Keynes last year. I last saw Nik perform at an all night Hawkwind and family gig at Brixton academy in around 2000 dressed in a spiky costume, coming on stage between sets, performing to the crowd at one point i seem to remember him playing the pink panther theme tune – but I digress! The guy was a legend in the world of Space rock back then, and he’s a legend still, And you could see in his eyes the love for performing.
The night was a real mix of classic Hawkwind, Hawklords songs from the last six albums as well as some new material from their rather great new album Heaven’s Gate. Although we were missing the more synth based noodling of Harvey, Dead Fred bought a fresh, almost jazzy feel to the band, which made it sound all the brighter. Don’t get me wrong – I love the synth noodling – and I hope, when Harvey returns to the band that Dead Fred retains his place on Keyboards. It would be pretty much perfect.
Aero Spaceage Inferno is one of my favourite Hawk tracks, and they did it justice that night, Tom’s bass work easily matching up to Lemmy’s driving bass lines of the 70’s era hawkwind. And PSI Power, what a tune, and what a performance. In fact, the whole show, filled out with Nik’s sax and vocals, and Dead Fred’s keys, Dave on drums keeping the whole show driving along with precision and power and Jerry on guitar and lead vocals it just felt so right. Some bands took the wrong step years ago, not the Hawklords!
The current iteration of the band may have been created in the shadow of Hawkwind, but they have grown, developed and evolved into something quite special. They retain that classic ‘space rock’ sound, but they are constantly writing new material. Yes, they perform the crowd pleasing classics, it can’t go without mentioning the amazing rendition of Masters of the Universe, or the encore of Brainstorm, with Nik taking more of a lead in these songs – but it’s the new material that really interests me, and their drive to not just be a cover band of where they originated.
With the night finished, Brainstorm fading from the ear drums, it was beautiful to see the audience so loving what the Hawklords are doing – and Nik, fist in air, 79 years young celebrated with the audience, grinning ear to ear. The guy is an inspiration, truly proving age is but a number if you have a passion and love for what you do.
Their new album is pretty aweome, why not give it a go, link to the album on Spotify here – or better still, go see them live and hear how it should really sound!