A COUPLE of weeks ago former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, reinterpreted his Genesis back catalogue and solo material with the aid of an orchestra in this very venue.

This week, it was the turn of legendary Psychedelic Space Rockers Hawkwind to reimagine their songs with a full orchestra conducted by non-other than Womble creator Mike Batt. Their tales of space travel, nuclear war, utopian citadels in the sky and speed machines were perfect fodder for some orchestral embellishment.

Assault and Battery was astonishing. The orchestral backing adding layers of dramatic intensity to an already bombastic song. It was huge and cinematic in scope filling every corner of the cavernous Hall One and a perfect example of how a Rock band and orchestra can create a sum greater than their component parts.

Zarozinia, on the other hand, saw the opposite side of the orchestral coin with some beautiful layers of atmospheric strings creating a haunting ambience before building up into a passionate crescendo adding a real sense of drama to Dave Brock`s guitar solo. Likewise, the subtle addition of the orchestra brought the more laidback We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago into 3D life while the soaring violin melody of Down Through The Night shimmered with ethereal beauty.

At times during the night it was just the band alone at full throttle during Damnation Alley with its fuzzed-up guitars and swirling synths and the fast-paced Shot Down The Night showed Hawkwind in their natural habitat.

Over their 50-year history their line-up has seen many members pass through the ranks including Motorhead`s Lemmy and drummer Ginger Baker but guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Dave Brock has kept his hand on the Hawkwind tiller charting a unique musical course from the tail end of the swinging `60`s right up to the present day.

At times the harmonising between Brock, long-time drummer Richard Chadwick and guitarist Magnus Martin was a joy to behold and is an often-overlooked attribute of the band being particularly impressive during Have You Seen Them and Arrival in Utopia.

Making cameo appearances throughout the night, Arthur Brown brought his own stamp of craziness to the show with a mix of costumes from Steam Punk to futuristic druid and his narration during Sonic Attack made an off the wall song even more twisted.

Visually Hawkwind have always excelled whether with stage props or wild dancers, tonight the lighting and lasers were spectacular adding a real dynamic to the already dramatic music and the surreal projections brought the stories to vibrant life.

As a singalong Spirit of the Age and a beautiful acoustic piece, Into The Sun, brought the show to its final moments it was left to one of the great Rock classics, Silver Machine, to get everybody up off their feet to party like it was 1969.

Mick Burgess