Hawkwind + Glass Mountain, Leeds University Refectory, Leeds

Posted by vibrations on 28-03-17

The refectory is not what I would call the best place for an up and coming band to play – it’s a great barn of a place that has a legacy with the word INTIMIDATING stamped all over it (I first came here to see The Cramps back in ’91 and that was considered ‘low key’, even when Lux Interior started climbing the lighting rig and eating the gels. Class band, sadly missed) – but Glass Mountain are not here to be timid. Dressed in white and glowing in the black light, they let slip their glacial melodies with an explosion of noise, and it is a good noise… hold up, is that vocal line… Coldplayish? Please don’t spoil this by slipping into Coldplayisms, you’re better than that. The crowd is as bemused by the first track as I am, but their second track shakes off the radio friendly pop pap and becomes an altered beast, borne of MBV, The Wedding Present and Smashing Pumpkins. Now I get it, as do the crowd, who are seriously interested now. And so it goes, with each broad guitar stroke, each rumbling bassline, each simple but effective vocal combo building my confidence in them, a dirty Floyd, full of discord and uneasiness… the only down point is when they lapse into Coldplay again. Closing track ‘Glacial’ is suitably epic, a nod to Disintegration era Cure, which is succinctly satisfying, but leaves me feeling that Glass Mountain are at an identity crossroads. My advice? Be dirty, difficult, angular, angry – the BBC may not buy up everything you do for idents, but you will have retained your soul and a legion of loyal fans that would include me.

I’m not sure what to expect from Hawkwind – yes, I know, space rock, prog rock, planet freak out rock, but I’m not sure what I’m going to get from a band that have been around longer than I have and have hung out with Brian Blessed and Michael Moorcock. Wary, perhaps, but excited too. Mr Dibs comes on looking like he’s ready for a fishing trip while Dave Brock assumes the position stage left. And then comes the noise and the light. It is not painful, but relentless and hypnotic, whilst mandelbrots and tessellates unfurl on the screen, accompanying Mr Dibs frantic vocals, singing of doors of time, edges of time, time of time… mainly about time. Riffs build upon riffs as the vocal gives way to an extended instrumental, a psychedelic tapestry of noise that weaves into the warp and weft of the visuals – it reminds me of those Megadog days, of seeing Steve Hillage (who wasn’t there, unfortunately) and The Orb… and reminds me that I still haven’t seen Ozric Tentacles. Then we are hauled back into the now, ushered in by Mr Dibs reprise. This is essentially the pattern of the set, with Mr Dibs acting as melodic MC while Messrs Brock and co do their spacey thing and the vocals do their swirly thing. It’s quite heady and… wearing. The intensity of the performance kinda takes it out of you. New album ‘Into the Woods’ makes up the core of the set (another concept album, this time about forest dwellers emerging into the modern world… I think) with other classic tracks such as ‘Hassan I Sabah’ and ‘Spirit of the Age’ adding to the mind mangling melee and closing with the epic ‘Silver Machine’… it’s almost too much for my fragile little brain… but I’m glad I got to see these guys. Still a pretty awesome sonic attack.

Rob Wright

On the Vibrations stereo...