Tangerine Dream, Hawkwind & Fashion
Fairfield Halls, Croydon, October 31st 1982.
The inevitable autumn Tangs tour, and inevitably a few changes, a few surprises, a few disappointments.
Firstly, the venue. With seats going right up to the stage it's surprisingly intimate. During the soundcheck the band are affable. Chris Franke explains the new set-up; one Minimoog missing; two Jupiter 8's and all the usual modules. The music hasn't become simpler, he says, in fact it's more complex, so the Jupiter presets help.
Johannes Schmoelling outlines his background in local Berlin bands, session work, theatre sound engineering and a surprise phone call from Edgar Froese. Edgar adjusts his Wave 2, resplendent in red and white leather. The concert starts.
As usual a mixed bag of old, new, and not yet released. 'Mojave Plan', a lot of 'Kamikaze 1989' (which they've been playing for two years, as it turns out), bits from their TV music Tatort perhaps. Piercing high-pitched digital sounds, smooth strings from the Oberheim, solos on the Jupiter ("it doesn't have to be a Minimoog!") and thumping bass. No guitar yet.
An interesting if gentle light show with shapes and colours projected onto a huge circular background. Encores from White Eagle, almost danceable at times, and with some very commercial pictorial material hinting at all sorts of styles from funk to chamber music.
No guitar at all. Members of the audience sit amazed as the lights come up. It's more commercial than ever, without being in any way a sellout, and several knowledgeable persons enthuse wildly. Others are not so sure... the only solution is to go again next year. Ah-ha!... So that's the idea!
Dominion Theatre, London, 13th November 1982.
For those who missed The Space Ritual in the early seventies, the chance has come again to see Hawkwind at their most powerful, their most visually spectacular, and their most inventive.
After a period in the doldrums following the departure of master synthesist Tim Blake in 1980, the band has finally learned to use keyboards imaginatively without outside help and the money seems to have come together for a better stage show. Visually, it's breathtaking; a huge futuristic warehouse or spaceship hold backed by sixteen TV monitors, with banks of monitors and synthesisers on each side of the stage, dancers in luminous outfits, bassist and now keyboard player Harvey Bainbridge to the left, Hugh Lloyd-Langton on guitar at the front, Martin Griffin on drums and leader Dave Brock on guitar and keyboards to the right.
As the band launched into 'Choose Your Masks' the empty space was filled by the familiar figure of Robert Calvert, guesting on vocals, sax, small percussion and various toys and gimmicks. The sound for once was loud and clear at the same time, with the Korg synths backing the guitars without getting lost. Dave Brock has been endorsing Westone guitars of late, and perhaps a change of thinking has taken place — certainly there's now sustain and distortion without the old excessive loss of clarity.
As the high-technology video display churned along, flashing subliminal messages at the audience, it became clear that there are new musical directions as well as the old 'question-the-nature-of-your-orders' anarchy. Both 'Sonic Attack' and 'Church of Hawkwind' contain a good deal of tape collage, sequencers and other innovations, and now there are hints of other styles such as Peter Gabriel's ethnic approach, a sort of heavy funk, and gentler pieces featuring Lloyd-Llangton's vocals which contrast well with Brock & Calvert's harsher styles. On the other hand the terrifying Sonic Attack is still there, along with other old goodies such as Magnu and Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear in Smoke), so everybody should be happy.
About half-way through, some of the videos started to resemble parts of old episodes of Horizon like 'Painting by Numbers' (on computer graphic techniques), but by that time the whole experience had taken over and it didn't seem to matter what was happening. It's good to see that a band now coming up for its fifteenth birthday can keep growing and changing; it looks as if Hawkwind have a lot of life left in them yet.
Odeon Theatre, Birmingham, 31st October 1982.
'Fabrique' by Birmingham band Fashion has been one of the year's most pleasurable releases. The fusing of a high technology approach to the warmest, most sensual of jazz-funk influences produced an album of superb technique and intense emotion.
But after the sudden departure of charismatic vocalist and songwriter De Harris, and faced with the prospect of 19 gigs in 22 days, the band inevitably had some rough edges. They opened with 'Move On' and 'Do You Wanna Make Love' from 'Fabrique', but sadly the vital, warm atmosphere which made previous Fashion concerts so enjoyable was missing. It wasn't until three quarters of the way through the set that some of the old magic began to filter through during 'White Stuff.
Drummer Dik Davis kept the sound tight and to the point, making full use of his Simmons kit and Manray Chinese cymbals, while Salvador Mulligan used his Roland keyboards, Vocoder, ARP 2600 and Moog Source to lay down sequencer lines cleverly complementing the bass playing of Martin Recci, which has been going from strength to strength and sounds better at each outing.
New guitarist Al Darby's style is quite different to his predecessor's, and his use of a Roland DC 30 Analogue Delay and Boss Chorus is particularly noticeable on the new songs, during which the band seemed at last to relax and begin to enjoy themselves.
Most of the audience seemed well pleased with the new Fashion, and so having survived their recent trauma the album due for release in the New Year should show in which direction their future lies.
Music Review by Lin Barkass
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