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Hawkwind continue sonic explorations

Kings of space rock make safe landing in Bristol

On paper French band Prime Sinister appear to be an unusual choice of support for the last two dates of this tour. They play straight-ahead heavy rock, which might seem at odds with the headliners space rock, and to begin with the crowd seem to agree.

Through hard work and infectious enthusiasm though, the Gallic trio win over the audience, and their cover of Killing Joke’s The Wait starts to get people moving. The Fifth Season, though, is their stand-out track, with its slower pace and bluesy feel.

Hawkwind’s set starts with a well received Motorway City as a backdrop of psychedelic imagery adds a timeless feel to the night. It could be 1970, 1985 or 2015: only the grey hair of the majority of the band gives away the truth. But listen to the music and those dates become irrelevant, as the playing is as good now as it’s ever been. The up-tempo Damnation Alley is a fine example, with more than a few heads starting to nod towards the end.

It’s not all headbanging stuff though, with some atmospheric background music playing while the band’s dancer takes to the air for a display on aerial silks, relying on a different set of skills to those of the infamous Stacia. The change of pace also helps create a contrast between the heavier songs, with an outstanding Born To Go played next. Dead Fred’s violin and Richard Chadwick’s drumming work are particularly noteworthy during this song. The theremin playing of keyboardist Tim Blake comes to the fore as well, adding spacey touches to the music.

Spirit Of The Age is the pick of the encores, with its change from electronic music to heavy rock, with just a stroke of Dave Brock’s plectrum hand showing the bands writing skills to great effect. Final song Orgone Accumulator comes close to beating it, with its punk-like verses sounding more like teenagers having fun than the veterans they are.

Put away your pre-conceptions, approach with an open mind, and you will find a lot to enjoy at a Hawkwind show… because it’s exactly that: a show. Going on tonight’s evidence, it’s one that everyone should experience at least once.