Gig Review: Hawkwind / The Blackheart Orchestra – Queens Hall, Edinburgh (16th November 2019)

Here we are at one of my favourite Edinburgh venues, The Queen’s Hall, to see those Masters of the Universe, Hawkwind, celebrating their 50th Anniversary. First up the support band who I had not heard before, The Blackheart Orchestra. The band are a two-piece with Chrissy doing the main vocals, keyboards and guitar, along with Rick on keyboards, guitar and backing vocals. Together they create a most enjoyable sound. When Chrissy sings I think of a mix of early Genesis meets Kate Bush, giving the music a haunting feel at times. The duo play through a short but thoroughly enjoyable set from start to finish with a good crowd at this sold out show. The stand-out tracks for myself were “Hypnotise” from 2017’s Diving for Roses album along with “Sebastian” from the same album. The pair interact really well with both Chrissy and Rick trading keyboard, guitar and vocals and they went down a storm with the packed out audience.

The Blackheart Orchestra (c) Gary Cooper
The Blackheart Orchestra (c) Gary Cooper

Time for the real sonic attack as Dave Brock and the boys – aka Hawkwind – hit the stage to a massive roar. Starting with the fabulous “Motorway City” from 1980s Levitation album, we headed through a packed setlist which included “Assault and Battery”, “Master of the Universe” and, of course, “Silver Machine” sung by the drummer Richard, a track I will always associate with Lemmy’s vocals. We get a few off the fabulous new album, All Aboard the Skylark, including “Flesh Fondue”, “Last Man on Earth”, “65 Million Years Ago” and the stunning “The Fantasy of Fladum”, apparently based on a Hermann Hesse fairy tale. These all fit in with what you would call classic Hawkwind.

Hawkwind (c) Gary Cooper
Hawkwind (c) Gary Cooper

The stand-out track for me though was the first encore track, and one of my all time favourites of theirs, “Hurry on Sundown”… and not just mine judging by the dancing, bouncing crowd. A song that has truly stood the test of time. The current line up includes Dave Brock on vocals, guitar and keyboards and he never seems to lose that hypnotic voice that defines the Hawkwind sound. Richard Chadwick on drums was a powerhouse tonight, hidden behind all the equipment the band has on stage. Niall Hone on bass and keyboards prowled the stage, keeping the rhythm on track, and the fabulous Magnus Martin was on vocals, guitar and keyboards.

The highlight instrument of the band has to be the theremin as it is such an integral part of the Hawkwind sound. It was played tonight with utter mesmerising mastery along with keyboards slung round his neck by none other than Tim Blake; it was a joy to watch him as he teased those sounds out.

Hawkwind (c) Gary Cooper
Hawkwind (c) Gary Cooper

I had not seen the band since 2008 and well… it’s Hawkwind. You either like them or you don’t and I love them; they never change, well, the band does on and off but the sound stays comfortably the same for the most part. The number of albums this band has out is mind boggling and makes you wonder how they can pick a setlist for their tours. The crowd were bouncing all night, the band were having fun, the projector-lit backdrop along with the usual laser show, great sound and a great setlist made for a fabulous night with the ultimate stoner rock band on the planet.

I head home a happy man still singing “Hurry on Sundown”.

Photos by Gary Cooper Photography

Hawkwind: official | facebook | twitter

The Blackheart Orchestra: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | youtube

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