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The Psychedelic Warlords (live at The Underworld)

Psychedelic Warlords December 2014London
18 December 14

We are heading towards the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, and this will be my last gig of a fairly packed year. In a strange way it’s comforting to know that as I head out into a cold winter night that I already know I’m going to have a great evening hearing some wonderful songs that have swum around in my brain for years.

Tonight’s gig is more like a solstice space ritual, a coming together of space rock fans from all over London to join in and worship at the pagan altar of music that is being beamed down from the spheres and over coming the audience in translucent waves. Alan Davey, standing like a warrior with bass in hand, has gathered together a great bunch of musicians to tap into the cosmic messages and decode them to play like the spirit of the age past.

Psychedelic Warlords December 2014

Craig High is dressed like the late Bob Calvert and singing just like the man himself, putting power and passion into his performance. When he switches to the sax though, he comes over all Nik Turner in his movements; he’s the perfect front man to the lysergic madness of the songs. Billy Fleming on drums keeps the entire set moving and uses some great fills as he hammers his way around the kit. Simon Wilkins‘s guitar playing is tight and graceful and when he spirals off into a bit of psilocybin lead that knocks your brain to the next universe it can only make you smile. Zoie Green stands behind her keyboards gazing off into the distance as she makes her machines whir and flutter and then hits in with a big heavy riff that helps powerhouse the songs along. Maya Calvert does her granddad proud by adding some stirring vocals. All in all the band create a joyous atmosphere for the end of the year.

Psychedelic Warlords December 2014

The band perform tonight two classic albums from 1974, Bob’s Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters and Hawkwind‘s Hall of the Mountain Grill. The songs hit like an asteroid crashing into a small moon. “The Right Stuff” is blasted out like a rocket ship taking off; “You Better Believe It” gets the audience dancing and chanting, “The Widowmaker” is like an overcharged battery ready to explode, and “Ejection” (a song my old band Vulcan Death Grip used to perform) is just simply sublime as it hurtles its way through the ozone layer. If you know these two albums well you are certainly not going to hear better renditions of these classic songs any time soon. There is a new vitality punched into the songs that give them a revived energy and makes you feel as if you’re hearing them afresh, like the first time you spun those albums.

Psychedelic Warlords December 2014

Part of The Psychedelic Warlords‘ power is the fact that they look like they are having a great time performing these songs. The visuals in the background were stunning and at times subtle too. In fact all that was missing was a ton of joss sticks and the heady smell of dope and it could have been 1974 all over again. This was a gathering of the tribes to celebrate not only the ending of the year but the genius that was Robert Calvert. This was rainbow-coloured sonic madness from the outer regions of space, its star fall heading to earth in a brain-munching psychedelic glow. A rather good way to end 2014, I think…

-Gary Parsons-

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