Hawkwind – 20th October 2018 – Gateshead Sage
By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)
About 3/4 way through the show as orchestra and band brought the epic Zarzorinia to a spectacular close having built it up to a mighty crescendo I blurted out “F**k me! That was outstanding!“ and to be fair those 5 words could easily be my “review” and I’d stand by it! But I best tell you a bit more…
I’m not gonna lie, I’ve only ever dabbled in Hawkwind and only know the odd track here and there despite them having always been a part of my musical history. So when I was asked if I would like to cover this I was a little apprehensive but I am always up for broadening my horizons. This is the second gig in almost as many weeks that I’ve been to with a “rock“ band being accompanied by an orchestra in the Sage. It’s a perfect venue for it though where every instrument can be heard balanced with each other providing a massive rich sound The orchestra set the scene with the opening of Assault and Battery conducted by Mike Batt (yep THE Mike Batt Of Wombles fame) as each member of the band take their positions before joining in and taking this 1975 classic to new heights!
Throughout the two hour set the visuals, as expected at a Hawkwind show, are as important and upfront as the music. Lasers, back projections, a myriad of coloured lights all come together with each track adding but never detracting from the music. Guesting on the mic is legend Arthur Brown in his trademark face paint and various costumes and especially on Sonic Attack his spoken word assault on the senses coupled with the bombastic mix of band and orchestra is quite nerve shattering! The return to a straightforward rocking Damnation Alley following it is like a breather.
The band played a few without the orchestra through the set, but for me, it was the combination of the two that really worked and going back to my first paragraph Zarozinia will possibly be one of the best band/orchestral performances I’m likely to witness! Whilst they are known as a “space rock” outfit it’s easy to forget that there are also some lovely intricate vocal numbers in their catalogue as well like We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago and Have You Seen Them both aired tonight.
Set closer Arrival in Utopia is the last to feature the orchestra and the band return to get the crowd to their feet for an encore featuring Spirit of the Age and yep, of course, Silver Machine!
Dave Brock may well be the only original member in the band but the chemistry he has with Richard Chadwick (drummer now for last 30 years) and Magnus Martin (guitar/ keys/vocal) and Niall Hone (bass/keys) (much respect to him too playing the set whilst ill) you’d think they’d been together from the start !
Click a thumbnail to view the image slideshow
View more photo galleries via our Music Photography Library