Two legends – one night, and guess what? We were there

Rock City has played host to several big names in the world of rock and metal over the past 30+ years.  Rarely though would Nottingham’s premier gig venue have two bonafide legends appearing on the same night.  Fortunately for the 1,000 or so psychedelic lovers in attendance tonight this is one such occasion.

Space rock uberlords Hawkwind are the headline act whilst the support come from the godfather of theatrical rock Arthur Brown.  That’s the God of Hellfire himself takes the stage before his friends and former bandmates.

Brown is in a chipper mood this evening, despite being stuck in traffic on the M42 for several hours which significantly delayed his arrival, a time that Brown refers to as “constructive”,  in n Nottingham but fortunately for the gathering masses not his arrival on stage.

As the opening strains of Zim Zam Zim, the title track for his sublime new album,  begin,  it’s a confident and strident Brown that enters the fray, backed by a supremely talented bunch of young musicians whose energy and rhythm allow the great man to do what he does best.  “Want to Love” follows and it’s a track that wows the audience who may not be familiar with Arthur Brown circa 2014.  It a disturbing but funky tale wrapped in a Tom Waits vibe which confirms to all in attendance that at the age of 73 the ‘God of Hellfire’ is producing some of the best work of his career.

Of course the classics like “I Put A Spell On You” are covered and they positively shine with the powerful, and at time, heavy backing. Props too must go to the dancer Angel for keeping the crowd enthralled during AB’s costume change.   “Fire” inevitably closes the superb 45 minute set and it’s a rip-roaring version which the crowd join in on like a stadium sing-a-long.  All joyous and all brilliant.

Arthur Brown and his band are essential viewing for anyone with even a modicum of appreciation for a true visionary artist.

Following AB is never an easy task so it’s a good job the Hawkwind faithful are out in their masses.  To be honest it was never going to be anything less than a triumph.  This line-up of Hawkwind have been together a while now and the band are as tight as they have ever been.

Mr Dibs cuts a classic biker figure, like someone who has just stepped off the set of Easy Rider.  Dave Brock is his usual self exuding a calm yet enigmatic presence befitting of his status in the band he founded 45 years ago.  The rest of the band play with the enthusiasm of a debut gig with Tim Blake a master of the cosmic keyboard and Dead Fred a master of all he surveys.

The reason Hawkwind have stayed such a going concern and influence in the rock and metal circles is in no small part down to the quality of their albums.  Their pyschedlic and other worldly take on the classic rock genre has inspired hundreds of other artists in almost every field and tracks like “Utopia”,  played with real verve and energy tonight, shows why they retain such a lofty position in the pantheons of music.

The video backdrop, dancers and light displays all add to the ethereal quality of the music that goes from classic track to classic track.  “Assault and Battery”, “Sonic Attack” they all keep coming over the course of the night.  Were it not for the fact that Rock City has 10 o’clock curfew on Fridays, due to vast numbers of young whippersnappers who prefer to listening to someone playing records rather than live music, you get the feeling the band could play all night.

Probably not good for the health of the band but you certainly wouldn’t get any complaints from the crowd tonight.