Hawkwind – Neon Club, Newport, Wales 18/03/17

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Another Hawkwind gig in yet another venue; I’m beginning to think they only ever play a place once! This time it’s the sleek modern surroundings of the Neon club in Newport, a venue that looks more at home with tribute acts and snooker tournaments. That said, it certainly captures the dystopian future of social isolation the band promulgated on their last album ‘The Machine Stops’ despite the friendly bar staff…

Eschewing the techno dominant visuals of the last tour, the band opt for the more optimistic pastoral vision from the albums the back cover, implying a return to the bands more Hippy roots perhaps?

Appropriately the band kick off proceedings with ‘Assault and Battery’ seguing seamlessly into ‘Golden Void’, then ‘Utopia’; a trilogy which predictably induces visible delight in the assembled throng. Next up – an unexpected ‘Steppenwolf’ proving a very popular choice, despite the lack of volume (which thankfully improved gradually throughout the set).

Dragging things in to the present the band launch into the title track from ‘The Machine…’ proving that they have far from lost their ability to write relevant material on a par with their celebrated 70s releases… and speaking of which the Spacelords rolled out one of their all-time classics the hypnotic ‘Assassins of Allah’ replete with cannabis leaf visuals. As always one of the <ahem> high points of a Hawkwind set.

Newport’s faithful were then treated to a brand new song ‘Into the Woods’ an impressive track that seemed to echo the visual projections of a return to nature featured throughout the set.

In keeping with what seems like one of the bands most stable and energised line-ups, Brock and co. fairly ploughed through the remaining songs in the set which included ‘Spirit of the Age’, the evergreen ‘Brainbox Pollution’, and a few new ones that nobody I spoke to seemed to recognise.

Wrapping things up with a spirited and surprising ‘Silver Machine’ (First time I’ve seen them do this in 7 gigs) the band left to an enthusiastic response that attests to the bands enduring popularity 40 (surely nudging 50) years into their cosmic experience.  Conan Troutman

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