HAWKWIND – Concert Review (The Neon, Newport)

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Hawkwind‘Twas a wet and windy night in the Welsh wild frontier town of Newport when the legendary trippy rockers Hawkwind played to a packed house at new venue The Neon.

This was the first gig I had been to in too long and I went with an old man’s wariness of what may have been a waste of good sleeping time.  However, it proved to be a good gig with plenty of life and humor.

Firstly, it was a very diverse set of fans out in force, from the oldies (like me) to youngsters who have discovered the band in the latter part of their career.  There were fans dressed in regulation goggles and white coats and there were a fair number who looked as if they had only recently eaten a load of ‘organic’ mushrooms from the nearby St Julian’s wood.

I walked in to the opening act Carnglaze and I thought I was at the wrong gig.  The band were comprised of a middle-aged chap on acoustic guitar and an older lady with a flute, both sat down like buskers at Newport Railway Station.  Suffice to say, they didn’t get a lot of love with their folky tunes, but there you go, it gave punters the option of getting to the bar early doors.

Hawkwind arrived with a casual saunter and took their rock trip to town.  The crowd were marginally more animated than mannequins but not much more.  The sound was clear, but a bit uneven.  They kicked off with “Warriors” and it was plain that this band likes to experiment with psychedelic sonics.  It was all a bit crazy, from the windmill acid-inspired backgrounds to the modulated sounds.  Through it all, Dave Brock kept the energy up with his tasteful guitar riffing.

HawkwindFor my money, the star of the show was the singer/modulator Mr Dibs, a former roadie of the band, who gave a good focal point to proceedings.  His image reminded me of a mad farmer mixed with Shaun Ryder from the Happy Mondays…His singing was pretty good, especially on the highlight of “Hassan I Sabbah” with its hashish chorus!  Strange to say, but after that there seemed to be a cloud of sweet smelling smoke above the crowd…

Utopia” was another highlight, as the evening bobbed and weaved and as the crowd finally came to life.  The final song was the classic “Silver Machine” and it was over.  I looked around and saw a crowd who managed largely to stay conscious throughout this amazingly strange trip.  As a teetotaller, this was one time that a drink or two may well have helped me enjoy the experience more.  Still, one more thing off the bucket list; now another needs to be added!

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