Hawkwind – 17/12/89 – Croydon Fairfield Halls

Not sure why Hawkwind always play this venue, it’s just so not rock and roll. The adverts in the foyer were for Panto, The Nolan Sisters and A Night With James Last, that sort of thing, not ageing space rockers. That said, it’s actually a very good venue, mid-sized, in good nick and comfortable seats. The tickets said + Support, but either they played at about 6pm or they cancelled. Either way, I have no idea who they were or what they sounded like.

Hawkwind Sounds advert Dec 1989This was to be the first of many trips to see Hawkwind, and the line-up is so fluid that their performances vary immensely – you never know what you’e going to get. This was a good one to start with though. I’d never seen anything quite like this – two hours of blistering space rock accompanied by the most intense light show, that really put the audience in a trance. The violently psychedelic imagery – coloured strobes, UV sensitive paint everywhere, hypnotic looped video projections etc would be embraced wholeheartedly by the rave scene very shortly.

I had probably only half a dozen of their albums at the time, and they played only a couple of songs I recognized but it didn’t matter, I was hooked. It’s impossible to say what their classic line up is, most Hawkfans wouldn’t say it was this one, but I was lucky enough to see Harvey Bainbridge on keyboards and Simon House on violin that night. The dual vocals of Dave Brock and Alan Davey are as good as any they have had over the years, including Robert Calvert, and one of the enduring images of my rock, er, career, is those two silhouetted in the strobelight, against a backdrop of dry ice, singing up into their microphones (á la Lemmy) belting out Hashish Hashish (or Hassan I Sabha to give it its proper title). Hawkwind claim that if you go to one of their gigs straight, you come out stoned, if you go in stoned, you come out tripping, if you go in tripping, well…

Hawkwind ticket Dec 1989 I think I would have to agree with that. I went in mildly stoned, if you must know.

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