HAWKWIND – Solstice at Stonehenge 1984
black widow records
Hawkwind have always been associated with music festivals, most notably the free festivals, where Dave Brock has said that, at
those events, the band is not shackled to appease an audience by giving them what they expect and have paid to see. With that obligation removed, the band can relax and experiment more than usual and gigs become even more fun. Their sessions, where they played for free, sometimes with the Pink Fairies, at Canvas City, outside the official site of the Isle Of White Festival in 1970, are a matter of legend and Nik Turner gained much attention when he painted his face silver and was much photographed as a result. During his set, Jimi Hendrix referred to him as 'the cat with the silver face'. However, when we think of Hawkwind and festivals, the word Stonehenge leaps to the fore.
The band always loved being there, enjoying the whole event as well as the freedom of how and when they played. This was not a time of business, but a time of fun. The most important one of these was Stonehenge 1984, which proved to be the last festival before the authorities moved in the following year to block the festival from being set up and Hawkwind ended up playing a few miles away instead. It was the sad end to an era. It had taken place twelve times and, had it been allowed one more time, it would have become a public event and the powers that be were determined to prevent that from happening. Happily, the 1984 festival was recorded and filmed and the Hawkwind Solstice Eve and Solstice Morning were both preserved...and we should be grateful for that.
The fact that Hawkwind were playing for free didn't mean it was a basic show. As well as the line-up of Dave Brock, Harvey Bainbridge, Huw Lloyd Langton (who played the evening session, but not the following morning), Nik Turner, Alan Davey and Danny Thompson, there were half a dozen dancers, a mime artist and fire spitting. A free event, it was the ideal time to introduce the new rhythm section to the band in the form of Danny Thompson on drums and Alan Davey on bass, with Harvey moved to keyboards. A move which was to have a long term affect in the way he made music, leading to his solo career, as well as years playing synths for Hawklords, in years to come, after his stint as the Hawkwind keyboards player came to an end.. Danny fitted the bill comfortably and drummed for the band until he left in 1988, to be replaced by Richard Chadwick. Danny went on to play for other bands including Bedouin and Pre Med. He also recorded a cassette album called Skinwalker. Alan made a good team alongside Dave Brock and it can be seen on the video just how pleased he was to be playing alongside Dave Brock, a man whom he had only met for the first time in November 1982, backstage at the Ipswich Gaumont. He went on to be the longest serving Hawkwind bass player, before moving on to pursue solo projects and form a nmber of bands. So in terms of the line-up, Stonehenge 1984 had a notable impact on the formation of the band for a number of years and, indeed, the destinies of Harvey, Danny and Alan. As if that were not enough to make the event special in the annals of Hawkwind, they played an interesting and varied main set in the evening, featuring a blend of old and new Hawkwind songs, along with numbers from Inner City Unit and
Bob Calvert's Lucky Leif And The Starfighters album. In keeping with the relaxed atmosphere, there was a considerably extended
version of Ghost Dance, lasting around ten minutes. The sunrise set was special too, with a long, laid-back, jam at dawn, in fitting with the occasion.
A lovely and relaxing start to the day and the kind of jam they couldn't really play to a paying audience. It's good to have the
memories of this significant festival gathered together in three formats.
Enjoy this special set, which commemorates a special event, not only in the history of Hawkwind, but of the saga of Stonehenge festivals.
1 Ghost Dance
2 Angels Of Death
3 Born To Go
4 Watching The Grass Grow
5 Night Of The Hawks
7 Social Alliance
8 Motorway City
9 Masters Of The Universe
11 Uncle Sam's On Mars
13 Sonic Attack
14 The Right Stuff
16 Spirit Of The Age
17 Stonehenge Decoded