While there's been much talk in recent years about the battle going on between Dave Brock & Nik Turner about who gets to tour where as 'Hawkwind', the fact of the matter is that Brock's crew (the official Hawkwind) hasn't been able to make it over here to the US in quite some time, so Turner, hot off the release of his Space Gypsy album, has embarked on a tour billed as 'Nik Turner's Hawkwind', with West Coast Krautrock/prog/space rockers Hedersleben opening up as well as filling as backing band, along with doom act Witch Mountain for a hot triple bill.
New York's Webster Hall was the location for this September 11th show (and some fun was certainly needed on this anniversary of the horrible terrorist acts of 2001) and the venue has separate clubs within the building depending on the size of the event. The 'Studio' was picked as the room for this night of space rock, prog, and doom, and with a small but loyal gathering it proved to be quite an intimate setting. As the show started a little earlier than announced, I missed all but 2 songs from the very fine Hedersleben, whose newest release Die Neuen Welten is well worth seeking out for fans of Krautrock/space rock. Atmospheric keyboard layers, legato guitar lines, some violin, and pulsating rhythms make up their sound, which is a real throwback to some of the spacier music from the '70s. Meeting the band backstage, they proved to be a fun bunch and really excited to be on this tour not only playing their originals, but also serving as Turner's band tackling all the classic Hawkwind material. Hedersleben are comprised of Nicky Garratt (Guitar), Jason Willer (Drums & Percussion), Kephera Moon (Keys, Synths and Vocals), Ariana Wagaman (Vocals, Keys & Violin) and Bryce Shelton (Bass). Definitely a band to keep your eye on.
US doom act Witch Mountain next to the stage and added a different element to this 'spacey' evening with their bleak, thunderous attack. Led by the enchanting vocals of Uta Plotkin , the band, Rob Wrong (Guitar), Nathan Carson (drums), and
Charles Dingus (Bass) take their cue from classic Saint Vitus, Black Sabbath, and Trouble, as well as a little psych ala Jefferson Airplane, for a heavy yet unique sound. Playing tracks from their brand new release Mobile of Angels, the band simply crushes live, and for all of us in attendance this show was also noteworthy as Plotkin announced that the tour would be her last fronting the band. She will leave some large shoes to fill for sure.
After the massive doom of Witch Mountain, perhaps something a little more 'astral' was needed to inject another dimension to this evening, which, Nik Turner's Hawkwind certainly did, as they basically are celebrating the legendary Space Ritual live album. Turner may be older, but he still brings it live, handling all the vocals as well as searing sax & flute. Highlights included "Time We Left This Wold Today", "Brainstorm", "Sonic Attack", and of course the fan favorites "Master of the Universe" and "Silver Machine". With those hypnotic rhythms, bleeping synth washes, heavy guitar riffs, and Turner's menacing vocals and screaming sax, this was chaotic yet beautiful space rock, and while the light show was somewhat limited, what could be done in this small venue certainly did the trick.Those who packed the audience were indeed completely enjoying themselves, fully entranced by the waves of sound created by Turner and the band. At one point both the lovely Kephera Moon & Ariana Wagaman stood behind Turner for an eye popping dance, perfectly in sync with the undulating grooves, keeping in with the tradition of Hawkwind as a musical & visual act.
In the end, this was a truly fun evening of captivating space rock, that did a great job of taking everyone on a journey to another place, far, far away from all of our daily lives. For a few hours, everything else mattered little, but the music swept us away.
Words & Pics by Pete Pardo
Hedersleben Facebook Page
Nik Turner Facebook Page
Witch Mountain Facebook Page
Born To Go
Fallen Angel Sts-51-L
Time We Left This World Today
Space Is Deep
Children of the Sun
Master of the Universe
You Shouldn't Do That