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Hawkwind/Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons
The Roundhouse, London

metal talk
Words: Steve Göldby
14th July 2017


Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons supporting Hawkwind at the Roundhouse, the venue where Motörhead played their very first gig in July 1975, was a dream billing for all fans of the forty year rock'n'roll institution that wrapped when Lemmy passed away a year-and-half ago to much well publicised disdain.

Phil has not sat still since that awful day and has taken his previously part-time band of bastards to a seriously professional level. This is the beginning of something long-lasting and enduring and since the Roundhouse, they have signed with Nuclear Blast, the world's biggest Heavy Metal label.

The gig arrived just a few days after the Arianna Grande Manchester concert atrocity and therefore security was intense and the crowd gathered outside the venue were more subdued than usual. You can't stop rock'n'roll though and the ultra-respectful security had their goodwill returned in abundance by a Hawkwind crowd who are no mugs and quickly realised that the searches were not aimed at discovering various substances that may or not have been taken into the Roundhouse, so some small good had come from the heightened tensions in the UK since some desert goat-herder decided to unleash his frustrations on our civilised society.

Phil and his boys played a superb set but it has to be said, they are more a speed band than a dope band so the audience appreciated them in more a spaced-out silence rather than with a raucous 90mph buzz. A triumph, nonetheless.

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Opting to remain in the general standing area and forego the VIP bar pass turned out to be an excellent move, as complaints from the prawn sandwich brigade about a poor view and sub-standard sound quality after the show duly confirmed. Keep it real fellas.

The view in the general standing area was, of course, duly enhanced and as kaleidoscopes and swirling backdrops took over the venue, all was well with the world. Then the Hawkwind show started...

Anybody who thinks that narcotics are bad for you should go and see Dave Brock, a man who utterly belies his seventy-six years and is as sprightly and fit now as he ever was and he brought the house down when he relayed the well-known story of speed being responsible for the success of Hawkwind as Dik Mik recruited Lemmy so he could have an amphetamine partner in the band, way back in the early 1970s.

Dave relayed this pharmaceutical tale just before the final track of the four song acoustic introduction to the show, 'The Watcher', written by Lemmy and perhaps better known as a cut from the very first Motörhead album.

The acoustic numbers at the start of the show were accentuated by a perfect English pastoral scene with bluebells and birds and a very witchy energy and 'The Watcher' translates to this format especially well.

As on most Hawkwind shows, the animated backdrop is a main feature of the show, themed tonight for new album 'Into The Woods' and from the space elements to the clearing with standing stones it was a twelve chakra activating experience.

Visuals have come a long way since the old days when you had to blow water and coloured oils through a straw on an overhead projector. It does a pretty good job at recreating the images in your head when you close your eyes and brought forth the perfect mix of airy beautiful melody through to dark heaviness.

'Into The Woods' is freakier, more surreal and way better than the Sondheim musical it shares a name with and you can dance to Hawkwind too. Everyone had a good boogie in the encore to 'Brainbox Pollution' which was enhanced by Phil Campbell's guitar, as well as 'Vegan Lunch'.

So with brainboxes polluted by all manner of exotic 'confectionary', a very happy Hawkwind crowd filed out of the Roundhouse safe in the knowledge that this great British musical institution are still on their very best form and after a half century of silver-machining their way through countless albums and memorable performances, this is one show that is still guaranteed to give you one almighty high.


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Steve Göldby's Heavy Metal Chronicles, 2008 - 2017


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