“This tour is the essence of space-rock,” Turner said in a press release, “The extra-terrestrial, inter-galactic, orgasmic embodiment of the loving and healing vibrations, and the rocking music of the spheres, flame on, one love.”
The 1973 live album Space Ritual, recorded during the tour of 1972 after the success of their hit single ‘Silver Machine’, is in my eyes (and ears) the ultimate live album. From the opening track ‘Earth Calling’ with it’s spacey sounds and launching into a sonic assault on the senses with the high energy ‘Born to Go’ to the ‘Master of the Universe’ and ‘Welcome to the Future,’ at the end of side four of the album, one feels like they’ve been on a journey. An 87-minute journey of Space Rock.
Nik Turner’s Hawkwind played nine of the seventeen songs from that double album when they played a 90-minute set at The Pyramid Cabaret on Monday.
Adding a couple of new songs from Space Gypsy and a few old Hawkwind favourites like ‘D-Rider’ from 1974’s Hall of the Mountain Grill and the acoustic guitar masterpiece ‘Children of the Sun’ from the band’s second album In Search of Space in 1971.
They also played a shorter version (5:30) of the almost 16-minute opening track from In Search of Space entitled ‘You Shouldn’t Do That’.
And of course, they had to play ‘Silver Machine.’ I’m glad that Nik stuck to the original lyrics and didn’t change the words to ‘I’ve got a Washing Machine’, like he did when he played with his old friend Twink at the Festival of the Sun in 1993.
Twink was the drummer in the band Pink Fairies and they would play gigs with Hawkwind in the ’70s. They would also jam together using the names Hawk Fairies or Pink Wind.
Nik passed the microphone to audience members and let them sing the words to ‘Silver Machine’ near the end of the song.
Nik did use slightly different lyrics for one song though. For ‘Master of he Universe’, he changed the ‘I am’ to ‘You are’ (i.e. ‘You are the Master of the Universe’).
The fairly large crowd was truly enjoying the show which also featured a light show by Andrew. Light shows and theatrics have always played a role in Hawkwind shows and this show was no different.
Keyboard and synth player Kephera Moon on the left side of the stage and Ariana Wagaman on violin and keyboards on the right did some interesting movements as well as arms gestures as they stood behind Nik making him look like an Indian demigod.
Nik is the only original member in this incarnation of Hawkwind, but it seems like the band ‘Hedersleben’, based in Oakland, CA, that opened the show and also backed Nik for his set, have listened to a lot of Hawkwind over the years. They had the tunes down. Very tight band.
Their opening set was quite reminiscent of the ’70s progressive rock bands like ‘Amon Düül’ and ‘Curved Air’. There’s also a ‘Kraut Rock’ influence in their music.
Nik’s flute and saxophone playing was right on the money and brought back many memories of listening to those old Hawkwind albums.
Bass player Bryce Shelton certainly did his homework learning all those heavy bass riffs that Lemmy came up with on those classic recordings. Lemmy was in Hawkwind until he got sacked (Nik was given the honours to break the news to him).
Ex-UK Subs members, Jason Willer (drums), and guitarist Nicky Garratt rounded off the band with Jason’s solid back beat and Nicky’s skilful guitar playing. Jason and Nicky played on Nik’s Space Gypsy album and also wrote a few of the songs.
After ‘Hedersleben’ played a 40-minute set of their unique brand of Progressive/Kraut Rock, ‘Witch Mountain’ from Portland, OR played a 40-minute set of Doom Metal/Stoner rock.
Rob Wrong (guitar) and drummer Nate Carson founded the band in 1997 and after a few personnel changes took a break from 2005-2007. Singer Uta Plotkin joined the band in 2009 and with their metal riffs and her Ann Wilson-like voice, it seems like a match made in heaven (or hell, it is doom metal, right). A few times her voice was so deep, I thought that one of the guys was singing. Interesting range. Charles Thomas joined the band in 2013 on bass.
During Hawkwind’s set, Nik mentioned that they needed a place to crash, so I made room at my place for the six band members, and for Megan the merchandise vendor and Andrew who provided the light show. They were perfect house guests and I saw them off in the morning for the ride to Saskatoon in the Spaceship Hawkwind (well actually a ten seater extended van).
Nik Turner’s Hawkwind Set List:
1. Earth Calling
2. Born To Go
3. Time We Left This World Today
4. Fallen Angel STS-51-L
7. Black Corridor
8. Space is Deep
9. Children of the Sun
12. Sonic Attack
13. Master of the Universe
14. Silver Machine
15. Orgone Accumulator
16. You Shouldn’t Do That
All photos by Doug Kretchmer