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Tropic at Ruislip, 5 February 2010

It's not every day that the leafy suburbia of Ruislip is subject to a full on sonic attack, but tonight it was devastated.

Tropic at Ruislip is a much needed local live music club, run on Friday and Sunday nights at the home of Wealdstone FC.

It puts on a fair amount of tribute bands, but also tries to put on original bands , and in the past has hosted the likes of Stray, Juicy Lucy and Never the Bride amongst others. Tonight sees Hawkwind legend Nik Turner bring his Space Ritual into town for the first time.

Space Ritual claim to embody the true spirit of Hawkwind, and when you consider the line-up of this band, few (except Dave Brock!) would argue.

Aside from Hawkwind founder Nik Turner, the band also features another founder member, Mick Slattery, on guitar along with original drummer Terry Ollis. Keyboards are supplied by Thomas Crimble, another early Hawkwind member, and on bass is Jerry Richards who played guitar for Hawkwind in the 90's. A good start then.

The first thing you notice when the band hit the stage, is what a fantastic job they do with the lighting effects - especially when you consider this gig is taking place in the social club of a non-league football ground. The lasers, psychedelic projections, strobes, and dry ice transport you into another dimension and set the scene nicely for a night of top notch Space Rock from the Masters of the Universe.

The set encompasses a pretty wide selection of Hawkwind's 70's output, drawing quite heavily on the spaced-out sci-fi horror rock of the classic '73 Hawkwind Space Ritual live album.

It's nice to think that if the great Bob Calvert were still with us today, he may too have featured in this band, and as it is Nik Turner fills his shoes admirably for the slightly disturbing poetic space ramblings Calvert was infamous for.

There is, however, a lot more to this band's set that the material from the Space Ritual album. Early on we get Calvert's The Right Stuff, and a pleasant surprise was Steppenwolf and Reefer Madness from the '76 album Astounding Sounds. A particular highlight was a superb version of D-Rider from the Hall Of The Mountain Grill album.

The band don't disappoint when they feature newer non-Hawkwind material either. Aside from a few live releases, Space Ritual have issued an album, Otherworld, in 2007 and an EP, Sonic Savages, in 2005. Several tracks from these releases featured in the set and fit in seamlessly with the older Hawkwind material, with Walking Backwards in particular ticking all the boxes for me.

Turner plays some fine sax and flute throughout the set, and that trademark Hawkwind sound is in good hands with Chris Purdon providing the ‘Space FX and wibbly wobbly noises'.

Another element of the classic 70's Hawkwind era is very much part of the show today as well. Back in the day, their live show was well known for the ample charms of dancer Stacia. Today, the dancing is provided by the more petite and nimble Ms Angel, who really is a delight. I lost count of the number of lightning speed costume changes she made, but she must have taken up half the dressing room!

The latter part of the set, which incidentally clocks in at an impressive 2 and a half hours, is choc full of old Hawkwind classics. Sonic Attack and a brilliant version of You Shouldn't Do That both feature, before a trio of heavyweights close the set - the Turner-penned Brainstorm, followed by Master Of The Universe and a blistering Silver Machine. By this time the clock has well passed midnight and although you get the impression the band are quite willing to keep on going all night, it's time to go.

So there you go, Ruislip has truly experienced a sonic assault of the senses. Now over 40 years since the inception of Hawkwind, Dave Brock continues to forge ahead under the Hawkwind name, with new material and a revolving door of new personnel. And good luck to him, because we shouldn't forget he was a founding member too.

For me, tonight's show proved that Space Ritual are perfectly correct to boast that they are the keepers of the flame, and the purveyors of the true original spirit of Hawkwind. This really was a fabulous show.

Review and photos by Jim Rowland

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