Saturday, 16 July 2011

Hawkwind to Hemsby - a tale of sonic attack. Part one...

I was fifteen when I went to my first real gig, sneaking out of a badly run boarding school and into the back of a transit van, borrowed from his father by an older day-boy. The band was Hawkwind and I was blown away by the event. The light show featured four slide projectors, mounted on a tower, that made dragons dance on a screen behind the band. The music was driving and the flute player (I'd begun learning the previous term) also played a saxophone. It may have been the first I'd ever seen. It was certainly the first I'd seen decorated with fluorescent paint.

I was also blown away by a strange cigarette that came my way (Congolese, the man said). It left me lying on the floor, unable even to crawl, while the band played a 'song' called Sonic Attack and I had my first brush with paranoia.

In the case of sonic attack survival means
"Every man for himself"
Statistically more people survive if they think
only of themselves
Do not attempt to rescue friends, relatives, loved ones
You have only a few seconds to escape
Use those seconds sensibly or you will inevitably die
Think only of yourself
Think only of yourself
Do not panic
Think only of yourself
Think only of yourself

I hardly remembered breaking back into the boarding house at 2am with severe munchies, gorging on thick cream and lumps of cheese - the only food we could find in the school kitchen - and then praying with fervour to the porcelain trumpet. By the next day it could all have been a dream but for the reassuring ringing in my ears. That and the knowledge that nothing would ever be the same again.

Below: the author with that flute player, some time towards the end of the following decade.

To be continued...


  1. I, I just took a ride
    On a silver machine
    And I'm still feelin' mean.

    Man, did we like this stuff?

  2. I certainly did, Mark. I'm not sure I go for the relentless steam train impressions (or space freighter or whatever) any more but I put 'Quark Strangeness and Charm' on my turntable the other day and was pleasantly surprised. At least by some of it.

    How's that new Yes album sounding?

  3. I thought the new Yes album was pretty awful to be honest. On a par with Tormato and Drama.