Hawkwind – 50th Anniversary Live: Album Review

Hawkwind show no signs of stopping even after fifty years. Here’s a live album to help celebrate their half century‚Ķ

Release date: 4th December 2020

Label: Cherry Red Records

Format: 2CD / 3LP

We might have mentioned we were at the Manchester Albert Hall gig on this tour. We do whenever we have a Hawkwind feature which seems to be quite often. Same for the support band, The Blackheart Orchestra. Having got that off the chest, we have an encounter with another live album to add to the large collection of official and otherwise live Hawkwind albums.

With the excellent All Aboard The Skylark (for some space rock japes no doubt) barely out of the blocks, the 2019 tour gave them a chance to dip into the vast body of work on a tour that celebrated fifty years. It saw Dave Brock leading what’s arguably the pick of the recent incarnations of a band that rarely tours or records with the same lineup year upon year.

And it’s that album that adds a decent chunk to the set. Half the first disc in fact and supplemented by a banging Born To Go and Spirit Of The Age. The latter always guarantees a smirk with the lines about the android replica playing up again. Sex dolls always raise a titter.

There’s even an old Lemmy number in The Watcher and his long term Motorhead mucker, Phil Campbell (“the Welsh wizard!“) joins and hangs around for Silver Machine. They head up disc two as we’re treated to some classic space rock – Golden Void, Master Of The Universe/Welcome To The Future. The latter feel just as driven and exciting as it’s possible to feel after fifty years of solid gigging. Richard Chadwick getting a serious workout on drums. It’s not quite the iconic cosmic celebration of Space Ritual but that was forty-odd years ago and we should be thankful that Dave has an outfit that’s still tripping the light fantastic. There’s the added bonus of Tim Blake adding all sorts of casting his spell over what Monty Python would call the machine that goes “whhheeeee-waaaawaaawooooow.”

They were always the band who took a bizarre pride in their lack of musical proficiency but more than made up in knowing damn well how to get a groove going. Same as it ever was. It’s great to hear Right To Decide from the underrated Electric Tepee and IMHO, one of the highlights of the gig. Surely we should have been swinging our pants on Top Of The Pops to this one and its incessant yet irresistible chorus.

This recording even goes back to the first song on the first album, the rustic folky strum of Hurry On Sundown getting a synthetic wash of cosmic space throbs from some silver machine or other.

Everything passes away in time and everything grows old,” say the words of The Fantasy Of Faldum. “Fifty fahkin’ years!“says Dave Brock. I know tomorrow’s just another day but returning to the words of that first song on the first album, let’s see what tomorrow brings. No doubt the cosmic energy will be charging their next new record.

Listen to Flesh Fondue from the Royal Albert Hall in November 2019:

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