I was lucky enough to be invited to photograph for two shows last year and on both occasions, they put on a blinder of a performance with suitably cosmic sound and trippy visuals with an obvious love of performing live. So it’s fantastic news that the live show was recorded at the Live Rooms in Chester and is being released at the end of May, especially in these strange days (that could almost be the theme of one of their dystopian fused rock songs) of no live music.
After a short burst from the crowd, we go straight into the Hawklords classic We Are One with strong driving bass and guitar and a great energy the song is a great way to kick off the live album. Tom Ashurst does a great job on vocals, capturing some of that anarchic energy that Ron Tree used to bring to the band.
After a short interlude and Thank You from Nik Turner, we go straight into one of my favourite classic Hawkwind songs Aerospaceage Inferno. Again, great energy that got the crowds moving in Hitchin and Shepherds bush doesn’t disappoint, with some prominent Keyboards from Fred hitting some jazzy high notes and Nik’s freestyling sax adds texture and depth to the songs with constant rhythmic hooks woven into the more chaotic moments. At nearly nine minutes long the band have lots of fun with this song and with some great moments of improvisation building into a powerhouse of sound.
Isle of the Dead from their latest album Heavens Gate again gives some great spacey moments with Fred again showing his skills on the keys and Synths, which live I truly love. For some reason live I sometimes lose the keyboards in the mix at a Hawkwind gig (just so much going on I guess), so it’s great to hear Hawklords giving them more space in the mix. Another nine-minute epic the band continue to flex their more experimental muscles and to me, and it’s moments like these that keep the music fresh to my ears and the spirit of the band young. There is also some great guitar work from Jerry here, really delivering on the promise of classic space rock with a fresh twist.
Circus Freaks from the Fusion album dials back the intensity a bit with some more great guitar work from Jerry and a fun little outro from Fred on keyboards before dropping us straight into the Hawkwind classic Master of the Universe. And the crowd go wild for Nik as he takes to the vocals for one of the most quintessentially Hawkwind pieces. Dave Pearce on drums really pushes the song along, and the whole band really capture the essence of what makes this classic great. At its core, this is a pretty simple song, but the band build the layers of sound, adding complexity and overwhelming your senses and taking you on a mind-bending journey in only a way that I’ve found space rock to do.
A short improv with A State of Life with swirling synths, sax and Jerry’s poetic vocals lead us into One Way Trip. Tom Ashurst Gives hooks us in with a great bassline and vocals, starting off with a nice rock vibe before dropping into an almost Stoner Rock / Dub in style with pulsating bass, textural saxophone, and synths painting a landscape of alien sounds on our one way trip through the cosmos.
The Joker sees Jerry on fine form vocally – a solid rock song with some suitably spacey moments and nice nods to Rob Calvert with some more poetic moments help make this song a fun ride through eternity with the devil on your back, before leading into Flight Path, an instrumental that takes a more chilled out approach with some nice sweeping synths, atmospheric guitar and samples – you can imagine being a long haul astronaut on a deep space mission gazing out upon star systems never before seen by human eyes before we move into the energetic and fun SR-71. A song that doesn’t take itself too seriously, where Flight Path was a relaxed contemplation of the universe SR-71 is the perfect roller coaster through the galaxy before dropping straight into a great rendition of Brainstorm – Heavy, trippy, Nik tales us down a black hole of sound straight from the ’70s. Watching this live Nik was clearly loving performing for the crowd and you can hear it in his voice as the band give us one of the best renditions of this song that I’ve heard in a long while.
Now, I have reviewed this album with my space rock tinted headphones in – ever since hearing Hawkwind back in the 1990’s it changed the way I listened to music. My tastes have changed over the years, but the sounds of space rock have been a musical constant in my life. The band have always drawn influence from different musical avenues, experimented with sound and texture that no other genre does – and Hawklords always deliver a fantastic live show.
If you’re a fan of space rock but have never listened to Hawklords (unlikely, I know!) then this is the perfect introduction to the band with a mixture of the old with the new, of thumping renditions of Hawkwind classics with Hawklords new material. And for those of us that have been following the band for a while, you’ll be taken back to the show and escape into the dystopian, lively and escapist world the Hawklords paint for us in our minds. And in this time locked down in our homes, with no live music on the horizon we all need a little escapism in our lives.
Hawklords: Hawklords Alive
1. Crowd Introduction
2. We Are One
3. Aerospaceage Inferno
4. Isle of The Dead
5. Circus Freaks
6. Master of the Universe
7. A State of Life
8. One Way Trip
9. The Joker
10. Flight Path