Hawkwind / Glass Mountain // The Refractory – Leeds // 16.3.17
A crowd of all ages filled Leeds Uni’s Refectory on Thursday evening, as often is the case when it comes to older bands. Personally my favourite crowd to be in is one at a band that has been going since before the turn of the century. They’re always more chilled and you know people are lifelong fans, the younger part of the crowd have either found their way to the band or its been passed down to them by their older relatives and there is something really special about that. Opening up for Hawkwind are an upcoming band with a unique sound, Glass Mountain are a brilliant four piece from Bradford.
Glass Mountain (8) were a brilliant choice to start the night. Their set had the audience swaying and nodding their heads to the rhythm just right for a pre-psychedelic band. Their use of heavily layered guitars with melodic riffs from both synth and lead guitar combined with relaxing vocals give the band an alternative rock sound.
Whether intentional or sheer coincidence Glass Mountain had a great stage aesthetic, the synth/bass player and leading vocalist/guitar were both dressed in all white whilst lead guitar and drums were in all black. This contrast looked both smart and cool, it gave them a memorable look. To further this both guitars and bass were fenders, the lead vocalists baby pink Fender Jaguar furthered his cool aesthetics. They opened up their set with ‘Home in the Weather’ off their Glacial EP, following this with ‘Medicate’ also off Glacial.
They even treated the audience with unreleased tracks ‘Gin Flows Through My Veins’ (and I’m sure quite a few members of the audience could relate to this one) as well as ‘Ghost’, so keep your eyes peeled for the release of these tracks, they were both brilliant. They also played their newly released singe ‘Cowboy Song’ The keyboard’s notes kicked in along with a wave like sound layered with the soft vocals which intensified when the guitar and drums began. Finishing off with ‘Glacial’ they had the room moving along to the music and ready for Hawkwind, as the room went silent I could hear multiple conversations around me emerge talking about how brilliant they were.
After the crew members had finished setting up the stage, the ‘Hawkwind’ font filled the screen at the back and the room went dark. The anticipation was high; everyone was excited for this iconic space rock/pshycadellic band to return to the stage. It was obvious that the majority of the audience have been along for the ride since the 70s, when God himself, Lemmy was a member and the band were breaking the rules and providing the world with a brand new sound. Hawkwind (9) walked on stage in the most down to earth manor, Dave Brock was rocking a Hawkwind T-Shirt, funky trousers and sandals, if that doesn’t say cool dude just rocking some tunes then I don’t know what does.
They opened up with Assault and Battery, the audience was swaying like we were going back in time, a particular couple near to the front were going for it so much they truly looked like they were in a psychedelic trance. The energy in the room was like nothing I’ve experienced before at a gig, this wasn’t a crowd pushing and shoving and trying to crowd surf over the barrier, in fact not once did that happen. Everyone was there for the music, for many this was a nostalgic night that I’m sure brought back a lot of memories and emotions, for some it was the first time seeing a classic band. Everyone was there for a good time and I doubt one person left without feeling good. I know I had a smile on my face throughout the entire set, when I was done taking pictures I stood at the side of the stage next to all the sound tech and danced along. Hawkwind are not a band you can stand still to when playing. Dave Brock provided some insane guitar playing that left me in awe!
Mr Dibs looked insanely cool in his western hat and sunglasses, his vocals were amazing, he made the songs that were released before he joined the band his own and he killed them! The visuals on the screen behind the band were ever changing psychedelic patterns and colours, completing the experience alongside the synth and sound effects that make Hawkwind so unique. They played ‘The Machine’ off their latest album ‘The Machine Stops’, this was fantastic live, so much energy was put into it and Mr Dibs was shouting ‘machine’ down the mic that had the crowd shouting it right back! Throughout the set the crowd was dancing and having a party, the energy in the room was something unique. As a younger audience member, and talking to a fellow young audience member after the gig, we couldn’t help but think about how much of a reflection this was on what it was like to be young during the 70s and 80s. It was one of those gigs that was the closest thing to time travel, and you really couldn’t ask for much more.
They walked off stage, and the lights went dark, chants for one more song were sung through the audience and the band returned to the stage. They played a few more songs, but they finished off with one of their well-known classics. The sound effects rung through the air, but as that famous bassline played through, the crowd erupted, Silver Machine was the best possible way to end the gig. Lots of the audience sung along, including myself, hands were in the air and you could almost feel like happiness in the room. To see it live was as unreal experience, this is one of the songs that shows off Hawkwind as a band that write about science-fiction.
Review & Photography: Holly Elizabeth