In 1980 Hawkwind was a revelation to a seventeen year-old. Dynamic. Enticing. Lyrical ideas from places I had never heard linking me to authors and artists I still enjoy. They were the first band I saw live.
It was the first time I had been to Sheffield, never mind a concert. I worried about what to wear. It was Winter but I wanted to look cool. My mum, as mums do, was ‘Take a coat with you. Here’s some money. Take it.’ My hair was shoulder length, but I didn’t feel cool. I took it. No way was I dressing in Burton’s and M and S that mum insisted I wear. I fancied lasses in Goth wear because they seemed intelligent, sexy and wanted to dress Goth. My mum was ‘When you get your own house, you can wear whatever you like.’ As a teenager you want to taste the extreme, get out of the ordinary, boring everyday but still be accepted by your peers.
Hawklords album had a lass in bandages on the back of it.
Space Ritual was a double album with a brilliant fold out sleeve. Photos of the band playing live with blurred pictures of Stacy their naked dancer in action.
Astounding Sounds Amazing Music was on Charisma, the same label as Genesis. It’s label was an illustration of the Mad Hatter singing in an oversized Victorian collar, bright green jacket, yellow bowtie with black spots and brown Top Hat. A green White Rabbit was running off in the background, with the face of the Cheshire Cat looking on and smiling.
You were very careful with your LPs. I would wipe clean the record, both sides with a cloth, getting into the grooves, feeling the static, before laying it on the turntable.
When we arrived everybody was in denims and leather, proudly displaying their sewn on Hawkwind badges and other bands they liked. The scent of patchouli oil, sweet and rich calming and relaxing.
It always seems to take ages when you do not know where you are going. The return is always quicker, somehow. The only seats we could afford were in the Gods so the band were tiny figures on the stage below.
I had expected the light show to cover the whole auditorium. It was only green lasers. Also, the sound of the band did not fill the space. It seemed lost. I preferred the albums where you could get lost.
From Middle French ‘rever’, to wander, delirious.
‘Orgone Accumulator’ Jane Fonda, `Barbarella’, Orgasmatron. I didn’t have a clue what an orgasm was. William Burroughs, The Naked Lunch, The Ticket that Exploded. Weird science of Wilhelm Reich. Supernature by Lyall Watson.
On the album ‘Spirit of the Age’, ‘Damnation Alley’ from the novel about a journey through post nuclear disaster landscape by Roger Zelazny segued into ‘Hassan I Saba’, Album ‘Warrior At The End of Time ‘ featured ‘Magnu’ segued with ‘Golden Void’. Simon House on violin, changed key of song as it switched up a gear, minor to major into extended solos. The long instrumental passages, encouraged good feeling that you wanted to last. An abstracted state of absorption, absent minded dreaming while aware. Lucid daydreaming.
Michael Moorcocks marvellous multiverse and Elric of Melniborn. Psychogeographer. Lost in thought, but not lost, not panicking because you do not know where you were. Calm in a place you do not know but wish to.
‘Steppenwolf’, from Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music introduced Hermann Hesse. His novel ‘Steppenwolf’ is about a man who thinks himself a wolf, or wolf who thinks himself a man. It appealed to my feelings as an outsider having moved to Barnsley when I was eleven with a posh accent.
Art Leads to Art
Like another one of my favourite Seventies programmes Burkes ‘Connections’, there is seam of linked music , literature, art. As the movie ’2001: a space odyssey’ at age twelve led me to the brillant compositions of Ligeti. Intuitively, I explore the relationships between these outstanding beauties.
Disappointed by the concert I am still enjoying the albums and achieving a sense of reverie. A sense I try to achieve for the reader in my own writing.
© 2017, Paul Brookes