Hot damn. Last night the Rhythm Room was the vessel for a full-on, motherlovin' space jam starring Nik Turner's Hawkwind. Turner is one of the co-founders of Hawkwind, a band that formed at the end of the 1960's and helped to define the space rock sound.
Hawkwind is still an active band with another original member, Dave Brock, at the helm, while Turner tacks his own moniker to his version - - he has been doing so for years but expressed at the show that he'd love to play with Brock, also mentioning that he'd also like to add former member Lemmy - - Kilmister of Motorhead - - to that mix.
Regardless of Hawkwind's long history of member changes and personal issues, at this Phoenix show Turner and his exceptionally talented band took a moderate crowd of diehard fans on a journey to the outer limits with a fiercely played set that featured songs from Hawkwind's early 70's recording, Space Ritual. "Earth Calling" kicked the galactic adventure into gear.
Trippy visuals added depth and dimension, jumping off the screening and encompassing the entire stage setup, probably making some attendees long for the days when they wouldn't even dream of attending this show without a little boost of the hallucinogenic variety.
The band barely let up as they worked their way through the first half of the set that included "Born to Go," "Brainstorm" and "The Awakening." Though Turner had a couple of brief sound issues with his mic, the sound was mixed nicely. Every instrument was able to shine, the vocals simultaneously blending into the mix while sitting just a little bit on top without any one instrument being too invasive.
Every player in that band is just so good, and obviously so into it, that it was easy to continuously shift focus. The guitarists were killer, the drummer just a total monster blurring the air with sticks and limbs, and the keyboardist was as fun to watch as her playing was good. Clad in a space-y silver bikini covered by a '70s long fringe vest and boots looking of the same era, she added plenty of ethereal dance moves to the event.
Turner, himself, is a real fucking joy to watch. Barely a moment without a little grin on his face, this freaky space captain is nothing but a terror on the sax and the flute, putting his wild jazz into the hard rock grooves. Turner maintains an intimate and intricate knowledge of the music that comes off as pure passion and from a place that obviously gives him some real peace.
The band took it down a couple of notches for "Children of the Sun," cutting the visuals for a bit and getting a little dreamy. The drummer took to the hand drum at his left and the audience seemed to groove on the mellow "We are the children of the sun" chorus. The tune conjures up other songs of the time, like T-Rex's "Children of the Revolution," another testament to being sharp, young, wild and free.
They took it back to the rock and blazed through several more songs, inspiring an excited response throughout. "Silver Machine," a big hit for Hawkwind, definitely got a rise out of the room. Psychedelic, soulful, outer spacey, blistering, driving, cheeky; it was all there last night. A nice slice of history that felt like the future.
He let the crowd know that he wanted to the night to be a "healing experience" and that he wanted people to leave feeling better than when they arrived. Nailed it, Captain Nick, nailed it.
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