I wasn’t really sure what to expect from English rockers Hawkwind, of whom I’d only passingly heard prior to this disc. I kept thinking of U2’s “Hawkmoon 269,” to be honest, and the kooky, sci-fi cover to this concert release offered forth no secrets — it just seemed reminiscent of some old, discarded Yes or Journey conceptual art.
So in went Out of the Shadows and out come an aggressive, druggy Blue Oyster Cult-type synth-metal, with progressive rock trappings. Dense keyboard textures and overlapping guitars are the driving force, in other words. OK, fine, but it’s still all a bit mezzo-mezzo, in my opinion. The amplitude, musicianship and in-unison riffs are solid, but strong melodic arrangements aren’t necessarily Hawkwind’s strong point, and that’s eventually a bit of a distraction or bore for me.
Recorded from an early December 2002 show at the Newcastle Opera House in Newcastle, England, this 14-song set offers up quite a show, clocking in at more than two hours. The complete track listing is as follows: “Aero Space Age Inferno,” “Angels of Death,” “Out of the Shadows,” “Time Captives,” “Master of the Universe,” “The Song of the Gremlins,” “Time & Confusion,” “Hurry on Sundown,” “Lighthouse,” “The Watcher,” “Assassins of Allah” (surely a strong contender for the closing theme of the next Republican National Convention), “Earth Calling,” “Sonic Space Attack” and “Silver Machine.”
Fronted by founding member Dave Brock, Hawkwind has, through the years,
featured a revolving-door roster, and this is evident in some of the music, which comes across as a sum of parts rather than a codifying whole. Motorhead’s Lemmy — a figure with
whom I was more familiar — was apparently a member and driving
creative force for a time, around for their seminal effort In Search of Space and 1975 follow-up Warrior on the Edge of Time, which provide a couple of tunes herein. Presented with a solid 5.1 surround sound mix, Out of the Shadows is, I reckon, a decent offering for loyal, longtime fans, and it includes an interview with Brock as well. It’s a shame, though, that there’s not a more proper reunion on tap with all of the original and/or important creative forces in the band. That might really be something. C (Concert) B- (Disc)