Cards on the table time. Even though I knew there was a very good chance I’d be seeing York’s Hawkind tribute band Do Not Panic again (after all, who else do you call when you need to fill a support slot for a space-rock band), I still haven’t managed to add any Hawkwind to my CD collection, and that’s despite having a copy of Space Ritual in my hand in HMV a few weeks back. Somehow, though, the music is seeping into my consciousness and I’m recognising more and more if it. Tonight, from the opening salvo of the the spoken word introduction to Sonic Attack, through Fahrenheit 451, Motorway City and Space Is Deep, it all sounded vaguely familiar. Those who turned up early enough to see Do Not Panic were, apparently, too shy to venture into the area just in front of the stage, leaving it free for Donna the Dancer, at least until a fan in a lab coat and orange “camouflage” trousers ventured down the steps and a few paces forward, becoming more animated as the set went on. The band continue to impress as an act in their own right. The music they play may not be their own but they play it well, from the fantastic drums and keyboards during a song from the first, self-titled album which I didn’t recognise, the lovely lead guitar and theremin ending of Motorway City and the driving bass that underpinned the majority of the set. There wasn’t much in the way of stage effects – just the drummer sending beams of light across the stage from his goggles – and, this time out at least one member had eschewed his costume, but they provided another enjoyable set that, once again, made me vow to try to add some of the parent band’s music to my collection. Also in the audience, however, was a friend of mine who is a big Hawkwind fan and Do Not Panic got a big thumbs up from him.
Hawklords were playing Fibbers for the third October in the row, this time promoting Censored, their third album in as many years. They opened, however, with Flying Doctor, a track from the very first, original Hawklords 1978 album, much to the delight of the aforementioned friend. Filling their set with tracks from all three of this line-up’s album, as well as a cover of Hawkwind’s own Uncle Sam’s On Mars, Hawlords once again provided a set which mixed space-rock with a more punk-like attitude. Once again, they performed in front of a mesmerising, at times psychedelic, projected lightshow. At one point, a section portraying aboriginal art combined with frontman Ron Tree’s makeup, bone-adorned body and almost-topknot to give the impression of an ever-changing painted stone-age warrior. Tree himself barely stopped moving throughout the set, constantly vying for attention with the backdrop. Strobe lights added to the weird atmosphere during Harvey Bainbridge’s Moog opening to Elemental Mind but, once again, the (for me) over the top echo effects on Jerry Richards’ microphone made his introductions all but indecipherable. Hawlords don’t exactly draw huge crowds to Fibbers, but they always pull in very enthusiastic fans. By now, Mr Lab Coat had been joined at the by two dancing women and, as the set continued, more people joined them, including some familiar faces (and moves) from previous gigs. One fan had more than a passing resemblance to ex-Hawkwind bass-player Lemmy. In some ways the vocals, especially those of Bainbridge during Freefall, suffered from being swamped by the music and accompanying sound effects but, especially during Coded Languages, that just added to the pop/punk/space-rock sound. Richards’ guitar took a back seat during the atmospheric opening to Forever, which was almost relaxed compared to the rest of the set. Tree and the dancers were reduced to swaying until the track built in intensity yet still retained a more conventional sound. Tom Ashurst’s bass and, eventually, Richards’ guitar were highlights during this track. “Time drifts through fingers like sand,” intoned Richards before leaving the stage as Tree read, from what looked like an impending five sheets of A4, the poetry of Censored’s Induction. Then Catwalk Chic returned the sound to its prior intensity. The band decided not to leave the stage, citing the fact that time was running out before Fibbers turned into a club, and the encore of Urban Guerrilla gave those at the front one last chance to dance at the end of another, for the most part, high-intensity and very enjoyable set.