St. James & the Apostles - Road trip (or rather Amtrak trip) to Philadelphia tonight for some space journeying. But we begin with local roots as a rather intriguing trio begins the evening. These guys are cousins with music that does more than hint at inbred southern craziness. It is blues most kozmik, loose, heavy, with a grunge component. It is guitar, drums, and keyboards, so at times it feels like Leslie West jamming with Rod Argent (with West on vocals) and there are times when I am reminded of Reverend Horton Heat. Very cool set, even with sounds you think you know, these guys have a way to twist and power them to new places.
Hedersleben - Up next are the touring partners for Nik Turner as this is a four-piece with guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards. All of them sing and there is some nice electric and acoustic mixes on guitar with some good stinging steel string acoustic early on. The music goes from Popol Vuh to Guru Guru and it is no surprise to see their Facebook page simply mention 'krautrock' in the about section. They move the atmosphere around from moody to rocking and are a perfect warm-up for Nik Turner's Hawkwind. But as I see a few minutes later, they were merely getting warmed up themselves, for they are Nik Turner's Hawkwind.
Nik Turner's Hawkwind - 73-year old Nik Turner joins this fine band he has assembled including Nicky Garrett, known for his longtime service in the UK Subs (and confirming the proto-punk Hawkwind style and influence). This is an art space and is small but quite crowded with a lot of older fans who have wanted to see Hawkwind hit the US for a long time. We were to see two Hawkwinds touring this year, but Dave Brock's more continuous band had to take a break for illness (due to this copyright fight is what was stated). Nik Turner addressed this and said they are too old to fight and did not want to mess anything up but keep a part of the name and band he helped found, if not even play together again. These are complex issues that most fans should not be taking sides on and I could write a lot more, but look elsewhere for that or just let them figure it out. Any fan in this room knows how to discern which band is which, no matter what they are called, so whether this is Nik Turner's Space Ritual, Hawklords, or anything else, it was certainly going to be a fun filled no-controversy night.
Now, the music. The band blasted away at most of Space Ritual all through the night, even the Robert Calvert narrations. There was a big wall behind them for projections, but aside from a drum riser, the band was floor level. They continued to rip out the tunes with more feral intensity than touch, which was more in tune with the live 'Space Ritual' sound as opposed to the studio albums. The keyboard/synth player was even doing her version of Stacia complete with a little less make-up and a lot more clothes. She did the synth parts well, so was important to the music in addition to the dance moves she employed at times. Turner's vocals were very thin, which was as much due to the PA than his age, although on "Children of the Sun" it may have been better if the PA was even lower (to be fair, I don't think he could hear himself much of the night). There were feedback problems as this small PA was not up to a band of this caliber. But there was enough volume to give the crowd a serious Hawkwind fix tonight, as the 90+ minute set that included only a bit of his fine recent solo album featuring much of this band. The drums were great, Garret added fury and style and Turner's sax and flute playing is still excellent. This was a fun night where the PA was the only letdown, keeping this from being fully transcendent.
Dave Brock's Hawkwind, or perhaps just 'Hawkwind' depending on the continent or legal ruling will be in DC at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel on March 15th and will likely be doing all the other postponed dates of their extensive tour.
Lemmy's Hawkwind aka Motorhead also had to delay a 2013 tour of Europe until February 2014 for health reasons. Hopefully America will follow.
See 'em all. It's all good.
Quote of the Night: From somebody in a car in front of the club talking/yelling at a guy he knew waiting to get it in... "I've been driving in circles for 15 minutes trying to find this dump!" (the only sign being the carving... 'Finney & Sons est. 1850... Monuments')