Henrik Hallgren 100522.44 at COMPUSERVE.COM
Sun Jan 21 13:44:06 EST 1996

Review from Eldslandet 16/12-95, at last !

This is the review I've promised to do for some time but due to circumstances at work I haven't been able to do it before unfortunately.
The review is  made by Henrik Hallgren, diehard spacerock-fan from the north of Sweden. I live in Sundsvall, a town with about 96000 citizens.
My intention with the review is to mediate my view about the "Space ritual" show at Eldslandet in Jonkoping, Sweden 16/12-95. Bands included was DarXtar from Sweden (a heavy spacerock group) and Nik Turner (cool guy).
It is written in a very uncritical way since I love spacerock and that can perhaps annoy some people but that is something I can live with. It can also be an advantage to write these kind of reviews ourselves, that way we can avoid reading about spacerock from people that doesn't like it at all (very common).

Eldslandet in central Jonkoping was originally a foundry years ago, but it's now a place for people into dance, art, music and craft of various kind. I suppose that we can call it a multi-activity centre.

Here is a presentation of musicians involved: Nik turner ( I think we know him quite well).
DarXtar is: Commander Soren - guitar, vocals / Darklord Soren - keyboards including a Hammond-organ / Patrik Danielsson - drums / Marcus Pehrsson - bass, vocals / Bjorn Jacobson - guitar, vocals and finally Fredrik Sundqvist - violin.
Special guest on the Nikwind-set is Kenneth Magnusson from The Moor on mellotron. Nik will also be playing on The moor's next CD.

This is the first time I see DarXtar live so I was expecting much from it. I've met the boys before of course. It was at the Hawkwind-gig in Stockholm 1994 at Gino's. I also have all their records so know their songs rather well.

The DarXtar-concert starts like most of the spacerock-concerts does with a dark stage and sounds from outer space. After a few seconds we hear heavy guitars that leads us into the first track "Stars". Sounds great from the beginning, and in the background the Hammond can be heard, very unusual nowadays. The sound is heavy and they boys are skilled musicians so what more can we expect ?
The sound and the computerized lightshow is also very good and it will stay that way throughout the whole evening.
Next track is a poem "Seven zones" which is read by Commander Soren while the rest of the band is providing appropriate noices that reminds us of space. The poem leads us into on of the best tracks in this genre - "UFO". The music reminds me a lot of 70's keyboard-oriented heavy rock. It's almost like a time-travel back in time to early 70's. Fredrik is doing a very good job with his violin during this track ( a Swedish Eddie Jobson or Simon House ? ).
The tempo is slowing down a bit and now we can hear "Dark daze", a slower track with interesting lyrics, I'm impressed by the wall of sound, something you expect to hear from supergroups and not from small groups in Scandinavia.
Suddenly a new track begins, very prog-like a'la ELP with a heavy Hammond doing much of the work. Some very tasty guitar-playing is added to the sound.
This is the perfect crossing between space and progrock, more of that please !
After a few minutes it's over and  the Commander reads another poem called "7" which leads us into next track also called "7" !?!
A heavy track with influences from old Deep Purple and Rainbow. Once again a crossing between music-styles and once again it sounds perfect, perhaps this is the new wave of spacerock ? I'm overwhelmed and is going to be that for the rest of the evening. Next in line is "Eastern wind", the longest track in the set with plenty of great guitarplaying that gives me a special feeling, back to the 70's again ? The track have a strong eastern touch, done better than Ozric's although they also are a great band. Bjorn and the Commander does a marvellous job with their guitars. "Breath messages" takes over with a calm beginning but the speed is soon increasing and we can hear a song that bears the trademark of classic DarXtar added with a touch of progrock. This is another fine example of what skillful musicians can do, every instrument play an important role, an orgy of sound. If the songs on the new album sound half as good as this it will be an essential buy this year (should be out February-96).
Unfortunately time for the last track, another classic DarXtar song "Eternal war" and a return to pure spacerock. The boys does a great job once again, mixing Hawkwind influences with their own brand of spacerock, without sounding like HW-clones.
My personal opinion is that they got a very special sound, unique nowadays.
They mix the rich sound of forgotten times with modern technology, not that usual today when many groups are trapped in hi-tech.
It definitely sounds like they boys know what they want and not trying to sell out to gain commercial success - music is more important than money.

Well, the first half of the evening is over and time for some rest and a few bears.
I'm sitting down and talking with Joe about the gig, and both of us are more than satisfied.

After about thirty minutes it's time for us to see Nikwind (Nik Turner & DarXtar plus special guest Kenneth Magnusson from The Moor, great band from falkoping).
I've never seen Nik before so it will be great to see him, although I've met him several times this evening and talked a lot with him about various things together with Joe.
The concert starts as the most of the Nikshows does with "Ghost dance". DarXtar dressed in "space-costumes" starts to play on a dark stage without Nik and suddenly an Austronaut/Alien appears from behind and is moving to the front of the stage dressed in white with a helmet and two lazerguns that he is using, seems dangerous, or are they not real ones? Strong opening indeed !
Nik takes off his helmet and starts to "sing" and moving around for a few minutes. By this time the musicians should be warmed up by this "aerobic" track.
They move gently over to the classic HW-track  " that" and it got much of the "Space ritual" sound added with "Business trip" weight. Nik is playing his sax more beautiful than I've heard before. This version is the next best in my opinion, number one is still the one from "Business trip". It's a 16 minutes full length version with Nik acting like a robot with his very special way of dancing.
Next in line is another classic track "...dreaming". This time Nik plays flute and Fredrik plays the violin, and it's a romantic version a'la PFM from the mid 70's.
The music stops and only the keyboards are playing the intro to "Kadu flyer", with all the light on Nik who starts to sing the fantastic lyrics, meanwhile the rest of the band starts to play their parts and this is the best version I've heard so far. In this track Kenneth and Darklord Soren plays an important role together with Nik. The violin and Nik's flute is soon added  and once again it reminds me a lot of PFM (Italian progrock-group).
The track ends and new noices is heard from the band while Nik is reading a poem called "Great sun jester", and the instrument that is in the foreground is the drums played by Patrik, sounding very much like tribal-drums. It finally merges into "Space is deep" another HW-classic and a guitar starts with tasty playing with Nik singing and acting like a robot. Then suddenly from behind enters a black princess and starts to dance with Uncle Nik, meanwhile she's putting a crown on his head. The dance she's performing looks great and it certainly looks like she is trying to seduce our hero. This is great rock-opera with a dance that fits very well into the show. After a while Nik stop singing and is continuing to dance with the princess for a moment. A space-violin is playng during their cosmic dance. After a while the princess disappears and the crowd is shouting after more, and why not ? Heavy drums starts to play and guitars is coming in shortly after and we can hear another classic track "Dying seas", sounding very much like the original from 1975 (Warriors on the edge of time). The Commander and Bjorn does a great job on guitars throughout the track. End of the track and the start of another live-favorite "High rise" with great guitars again added with violin. The Commander does the vocal-part this time and he's doing it well, and it's played in a slower tempo than I'm used to but it's still a very good version.
The music fades and new cosmic noices is heard while Nik reads the poem "Sonic attack" into the mic inside his sax (as Joe says - audience cannot escape the fear in his eyes), and in the background we can hear Kenneth playing his  mellotron (very beautiful). At the end of this track smoke is filling the stage and the band starts to play "Brainstorm" with heavy guitars in the foreground. Suddenly the princess is entering the stage performing a very good dance that I've never seen before. The track is played very close to the original added with excellent guitar-playing, must be another top-version with Nik sitting down and playing his sax and the princess dancing around him. By now the audience is really wild when the chainsaw-guitars is warming up again and leads us into one of my favorite-tracks "D-rider", Nik is playing his flute again (he's really good you know). I get the same feeling now as I got 22 years ago when I heard the track for the first time, and " Hall of the mountain grill" was the first album I bought by Hawkwind actually. The flute leads us from "D-rider" into an old ICU-track called "Wild hunt" and that is also a very good one, reminds me a lot of Ian Anderson when he's playing "Bouree". The princess is also back and this time she's, dressed like a large butterfly with huge wings (the good-looking girl must be very talented). Wild applauce from the audience as usual and "Seven by seven " which Nik is opening by playing flute starts and the princess is still dancing another beautiful dance. I hope she's included in the set if Nik & DarXtar does a tour this summer. Once again the music stops and the guitars starts to play "Masters of the universe", as usual it's a favorite of mine (aren't they all ?). This is also a close to the original-version with a 90's touch, but no princess this time unfortunately. After this superb track we hear a poem called    " Entropy tango" which was only read in the early or mid 70's by Michael Moorcock at some Hawkwind-gigs. It's soon read and "Children of the sun"

 starts and it's played very beautiful with a dark and lonely overtune, I'm shivering during the song and suddenly Nik ends the track by saying "Tack" which means thankyou and the band is leaving the stage, but the audience wants more and after a few minutes the band is back. Nik is telling us how much he have enjoyed being back after 20 years, but without Evert Wysell (the organizer) this would have been impossible. After that followed the usaul christmas-greetings and he told us what it all is about - peace, love and understanding, and we all agree on that, don't we ?
The final track starts and it's an old hit called "Silver machine" with the princess dancing together with Nik and a fire-eater coming out from behind the stage, walking down to the floor where the audience is gattering round him and I think it all looks like a giant camp-fire where the people are sitting down and listening to old stories but this time it's Nik playing sax and singing this great song. Joe wrote a letter to me and he described this as a 10 minutes berserk version, which I think is absolutely correct, perhaps this is the final version ? Nik starts to play his sax in a wild manner and by now the the temperature is rather high on the floor and Nik is ending the track with the "Washing machine" end.

The long-awaited show is over and we are all saying that this was something very special. We (Joe and me) got a chance to talk with Soren after the gig and he was satisfied with the evening although very tired, they've played  for about three hours so we can understand why.
We couldn't find a weak spot this evening but then again, we are true fans of spacerock.

There is probably some faults in this review - typing errors and other things but I hope you've enjoyed it anyway.
Don't hesitate to to contact me if you've any comments to this interview.

Henrik Hallgren

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