Thursday, April 21, 2016

HAWKWIND

20.04.2016 The Assembly Room, Leamington Spa
£24.75

If ever there was a band that can be described as visionary it must be Hawkwind.

Formed in 1969 the band survived every fashion trend there was be it the New Romantics, Synth Pop or Punk and that’s perhaps because Hawkwind embrace and always have embraced electronic elements in their music and although they are down to earth good old fashioned rockers their psychedelic anthems seem timeless.

Difficult to pigeon hole (thank the numerous gods for that) their music has often been labelled as: space rock and I think that is accurate.

Like many bands that have been rocking the universe for as long, or half as long, as Hawkwind, the band has experienced many lineup changes and founding member Dave Brock has been there from the start through all the successes and the not so successful times.


Hawkwind had over 20 albums charting in the British charts and their early 70s single ‘Silver Machine’ remains their biggest hit to date, peaking at number 3 in 1972.

Hawkwind’s most famous ex member Lemmy Kilmister (of Motoerhead fame) often stated that the reason why he was thrown out of the band was because the drugs he was taking weren’t compatible to the drugs the rest of the band were taking at the time, which gives you an idea what an interesting bunch Hawkwind are and why they were oblivious to the many influences that swept the UK over the decades – or maybe it is just the vision of Dave Brock that keeps on pushing boundaries.

Be this as it may, here they are again embarking on a major tour and one with an interesting twist at that.

The 2016 tour ‘The Machine Stops’ is based on the dystopian novel by EM Forster that prompted Hawkwind to bring this out as an album with newly written material based on said story and onto the stage.

The visuals during the show are all sublime, weird & wonderful and the band plays tight and at times heavy rock and acknowledges in a perhaps unintended way that the times of prog rock (which they influenced quite a bit) are over, judging by their synthesist playing stuff (brilliantly I might add) via a small controller keyboard and a laptop.

When you watch them on stage you can’t help but like them and their stage show would fit a one-man tent just as much as a stadium or arena plus the new album sounds absolutely stunning and vocalist Mr. Dibs sings and narrates it well. Although this year’s motto is: ‘The machine stops’ – I don’t think it will anytime soon

Go see them !!























We’ve had the pleasure of talking to the band roughly three years ago – listen here

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

HANS ZIMMER

12.04.2016 Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham
£67.50

Frankfurt/Germany born Hans Zimmer is among the few composers of Hollywood whose name carries the same weight as that of the actors or the director.

He has had a hand in over 150 movies and has won over 100 awards including three classical BRIT awards, four Grammies, an Oscar™ for the Disney smash hit ‘The Lion King’ and two golden globes awards.

He is certainly no stranger to success.

The night in Birmingham was magical and we were told that Hans had never played outside of London and that we were the first to experience his music in a concert setting and, boy, were we in for a treat.

Zimmer performed with a 40+ piece orchestra and a 20+ piece choir and brought the house down.


He reminisced that the last time he performed in Birmingham was thirty years ago when he arrived in a Ford Transit and performed in a pub. The ‘rags to riches’ story doesn’t quite apply to Zimmer as even as a young man he could afford a stellar modular synthesizer and they are known to have been as costly as a house. In fact, there is a famous ad that says: “If you can afford a truck, you can afford a synthesizer” but nonetheless it is easy to see that the memories of performing in Birmingham some three decades ago and again tonight in a massive arena are worlds apart. 





In his teens he’d moved to London and indeed it was in the UK where he had his first successes, especially as a member of ‘The Buggles’ whose hit ‘Video killed the radio star’ was the first ever video to be aired on MTV back in the day. Erasure’s Vince Clarke called that song ‘the perfect pop song’.

The Buggles were a really interesting proposition in their own right as other band members also made quite a dent in the world of music. Keyboarder Geoff Downes once played in the super-group Asia and Trevor Horn was in the Art Of Noise and even found himself as a reluctant vocalist of YES, having to fill the shows of the amazing Jon Anderson. But Horn is mainly known as a superb producer and production work includes Yes, Seal, ABC, Dollar and the Pet Shop Boys among others.

These days Hans Zimmer lives in the United States for obvious reasons.

Zimmer himself uses Synthesizers and combines it with an orchestra quite a lot and on stage he played the piano, synthesizer, banjo and guitar. 











Due to the sheer amount of scores, many pieces were sort of semi-medleys and the night included music from the Tony Scott directed ‘Crimson Tide’, the Ridley Scott directed ‘Gladiator’ as well as music from ‘Rain Man’ , ‘The thin red line’, ‘The Da Vinci Code’, ‘Interstellar’ and ‘Pirates of the Carribean’ among others, all nicely interlaced with lovely anecdotes told by Hans himself.

It was an amazing experience to see so many top notch musicians come together to breathe some further soul into already existing, wonderful and memorable soundtracks.

Photo credits: Nicole Valentin