Sunday 22nd October 2023
The Forge, Camden, London
British Space Rockers Hawklords are back on the road promoting a brand-new studio album ‘Space’. Their nineteen date ‘Space UK Tour’ landed tonight at The Forge featuring Jerry Richards - guitar and vocals (Hawkwind 1995 – 2001, Mr Dibs Hulme - bass, oscillators, audio generators and vocals (Hawkwind 2007 - 2018) and drummer Dave Pearce (Bevis Frond 2011 - present).
The first incarnation of Hawklords began in 1978 as a side project from Hawkwind and featured Robert Calvert on vocals, Dave Brock on guitar, Simon King on drums, Harvey Bainbridge on bass and occasionally Martin Griffin on drums replacing Simon King, with the addition of Steve Swindells on keyboards. They lasted one year and released one studio album in 1978 called ‘25 Years On’. Basically, a Hawkwind album by any other name! By 1979 Dave Brock revived the Hawkwind name and released the ‘PRX5’ album before changing the lineup once again going into the 80s.
The second coming of Hawklords began in 2009 when original Hawkwind vocalist/flautist/songwriter Nik Turner organised a memorial concert for the late great graphic artist Barney Bubbles at the 229 Venue in London (originally planned to be held at The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London) - Barney designed record sleeves, posters, and stage backdrops for Hawkwind in the 1970s. The concert brought together many ex-members of Hawkwind and Hawklords including Turner, Ron Tree, Danny Thompson, Jerry Richards, Alan Davey, Harvey Bainbridge, Steve Swindells, Martin Griffin, and Adrian Shaw. Following the success of this concert the decision was made to form a band to tour Europe as Hawklords in 2011. The lineup included Turner, Tree, Richards, Shaw, Bainbridge, Swindells, Davey and Griffin.
After the success of the European tour the band restructured to record the ‘We Are One’ album, which was released in 2012. The lineup was Bainbridge, Dave Pearce, Richards, Shaw and Tree. Despite varying lineup changes over the ensuing years, the main driving force in keeping the band together and maintaining a continuous momentum to this day is guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Richards. The band have been extremely prolific since 2012 going on to release a string of high quality albums including ‘Dream’ (2013), ‘Censored’ (2014), ‘R:Evolution’ (2015), ‘Fusion’ (2016), ‘Six’ (2017), Brave New World (2018), ‘Heaven's Gate’ (2019), ‘Time’ (2021) and the latest ‘Space’ (2023). After several lineup changes the band are now down to a three-piece featuring Richards, Mr Dibs and Pearce.
The evening’s space trip odyssey got off to a suitably intergalactic start with the title track of the 2012 album ‘We Are One’. Definity one of the Hawklords best songs which grabbed everyone’s attention with its anthemic chorus and infectiously hypnotic riff. Without further ado it was onto a new track from the latest platter ‘Space’ in the form of the pounding ‘Gravity Well’. A strong track, sure to be a fixture of future Hawklords live sets. With the current lineup being reduced to a trio of drums, bass, and guitar the dynamics of the sound is more visceral and direct than previous lineups. Unfortunately, not many punters were in the venue for this gig, but it was a Sunday after all! The upside was that there was plenty of room to jump around and gyrate to the pulsating rhythms!
The rambunctious ‘Speed of Sound’ from the 2021 album ‘Time’ came next before the onslaught of ‘Devil in Your Head’ from the 2018 album ‘Brave New World’ had the hypnotised crowd in raptures! Another fine track from the latest album written by Mr Dibs called ‘Astral’ kept the mood elevated. The new album ‘Space’ is a concept album, you guessed it, about Space!
The time was about right for an oldie but goodie in the shape of the Hawkwind classic ‘Robot’ written by Robert Calvert and Dave Brock from the 1979 Hawkwind album ‘PXR5’. A gregariously jubilant performance from one and all. The guys were clearly on top form and delivered a well-rehearsed tight set. Onward to 2015 for the celestially roaring ‘The Joker’ from the ‘R:Evolution’ album before a return to the new release for ‘Lost In Space’ and ‘The Silence Of Space’. Swirly whooshes abound with trippy psychedelic lights to elevate euphoric enlightenment! Another step back in time ensued for the mesmerising masterpiece that is Hawkwind’s ‘Brainstorm’ from their 1972 ‘Doremi Fasol Latido’ album. One of Nik Turner’s best compositions. Sadly, Nik died in November 2022 at the age of eighty-two. One of Nik’s last ever performance was with the Hawklords at the HRH Prog Festival, Shepherds Bush Empire, London on 27th October 2019, where he guested on vocals, flute, and saxophone for the entire set.
Moving proceedings back to the present came two bangers from the 2023 ‘Space’ album ‘Darkspace’ and ‘Gravity Zero’. The latter begs the eternal question ‘Is there life on Mars?’ Time for another poem in the form of ‘Obscura’ from the 2021 album ‘Time’ before we were then transported beyond the outskirts of the stratosphere and into a frenzy of elation with the mighty ‘One Way Trip’ from the 2019 album ‘Heaven’s Gate’. ‘You Will Be The Sun’ was another quality newbie from the ‘Space’ album written by Mr. Dibs. Closing the main set was the top-notch interstellar Hawklords classic and good ol’ crowd pleaser ‘SR-71’ from the 2016 album ‘Fusion’. A Hawklords set wouldn’t be complete without it! Sending the gathered devotee’s home with intoxicated eyes and joyous grins was a cover of the Robert Calvert classic ‘The Right Stuff’ from his brilliant 1974 ‘Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters’ album. A cosmically rapturous conclusion to an intergalactically mind-blowing Space Rock extravaganza!
Steven C. Gilbert