Tuesday, October 07, 2008

At the 100 Club!

No, stop it, the 100 Club is not the group that I now belong to having seen another birthday come around. I'm officially half way to 90 though. Or, as my old Gran would have described it, nearly 50. Or 45 to be exact. See how I did that? I made myself sound younger by reducing in stages the possible age that I've now reached. Clever eh?

Bits of news first then. The reissue of Robert Calvert's solo album Freq has now been released, containing my sleeve notes / essay. "Make 'em fun", said the label, of an album that's about the Miners' Strike of 1984. "Hmm", said I, went and looked up what Tony Benn was writing in his diary about the strike during the month Bob was recording the album and then wrote a serious essay instead. Actually, we all think the notes have come out ok! I've also just turned in the booklet notes for Cherry Red's two Hawkwind Compilations that the trade have asked for to kick start the Hawkwind back catalogue reissue - there's two three-CD sets coming, great selection of tracks and a package designed for the casual buyer to give them a flavour of things to come.

Amazon US now have pre-orders for next July's stateside release of Festivalized (there you go, you heard the title here first!), which is a survey of the free festival scene (music, politics and the alternative culture) by some old music hack by the name of Ian Abrahams and Bridget Wishart, former Hippy Slag, Demented Stoat and ex-Hawkwind singer of this parish. Don't know when the UK pre-orders start but you can bet that I'll be here straight away with an affiliated link. Don't miss a trick, me. US release can be ordered here.

Back to the 100 Club then! I was there a couple of fridays back to see Nik Turner's Space Ritual outfit play - a hugely enjoyable performance (as always). Get this, I was asked to sign two copies of the Hawkwind biography that some very fine fellows had brought along to get various band members to sign. How embarrassed was I? So embarrassed in fact that I dashed to Facebook asap to announce I'd been signing in the 100 Club. That's now embarrassed I was!

I was down at the Royal Albert Hall the following night to see (for Rock N Reel magazine) another group that have a strong claim to the title of 'The People's Band' - The Levellers. Second time I've seen them this year (ok, strictly accurate then, second time I've ever seen them!) and I get more impressed by them the more I see and hear them. And it's only taken me twenty years to really catch on!

Sunday morning was spent travelling down to Herne Bay from London Victoria. Ah, I'd worked it all out, had the journey plan nailed down, hour and half by train, all well and good. Time to get down there early, find a pub to watch the Grand Prix in and everything. Saturday morning, do the double check and find there's engineering works and the prospect of an hour extra in a hot and stuffy bus that, it turned out, looked as though it had been trashed at the Beanfield in 1985 and deteroriated ever since. But, at the end I get picked up from Faversham by my old Contico friend Denis, get whisked down to Herne Bay at *** miles per hour (I forgot to mention what an awful passenger I am), taken to his fantastic house, find his lovely wife has laid out food and has put the F1 race on the TV. How great is that!

This was for the Robert Calvert memorial gig featuring 'Nik Turner & Friends' who are former Hawks Steve Swindells, Harvey Bainbridge, Alan Davey, Martin Griffin, Ron Tree, Jerry Richards and Adrian Shaw. Great day down in the Kent sunshine talking to various Hawk Yahoo List friends and acquitances from previous Hawkwind gigs including Steve from Leeds, someone who I only know (sorry!) as Rob Dreamworker's mate Tommy, Chris Purdon, Trev Hughes, Dave Roberts and others! The show itself, just fantastic really. Totally unrehearsed apparently and somewhat curtailed due to an unexpected 10pm music curfew but played with reverence to Bob's memory and in celebration of his all too short life. It's hard to pick out specifics because it was all just fab but to highlight a few things, a real lump-in-the-throat watching Adrian Shaw playing on 'Damnation Alley', Nik's unexpected flute playing on 'Psi Power', Alan's usual huge stage presence, Steve's excellent keyboards, the usual cool poise of dancer Miss Angel... just for starters. I get a quick word after the show with Ron and tell him, truthfully, that his delivery of the lyrics to 'High Rise' was "Just fucking immense, man", get two hugs from Miss Angel (ok, ok, but then I got three from Alan) and, equally truthfully, tell Jerry that I thought him 'Man of the Match' for his guitar-playing and holding things together so well. But really, fantastic job everybody and Bob's memory was really done proud.

Oh! And I get my picture taken with Steve Swindells - the man who wrote 'Shot Down In The Night'! How cool is that! :)