The Agents Of Chaos

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Agents Of Chaos
The Summer of 1988 saw a hectic period in the countryside of Southern Britain. Events at Stonehenge around Solstice saw ten thousand people walking towards the Stones, and being met by a thousand police, most donned in riot gear. Festivals, mostly free, were springing up every weekend and Hawkwind, albeit in various guises, could be found at many of them.

Meanwhile, Dave Brock and Harvey Bainbridge had become good friends with Midlands band "Tubilah Dog" (who they had met at a free festival the previous Summer and later went on to support Hawkwind on tour) and found they shared a common interest in frenzied free festival music.
Both Dave and Harvey wanted to have a sideline to Hawkwind, a low-key festival band that would tour round and play these events. By June, the "Hawkdog", a.k.a "Agents Of Chaos" band began performing with the films, gels and wheel fx effects of 'The Black Cat Lightshow'. To begin with, the band was Tubilah Dog plus Dave and Harvey, but they would later be joined by whoever was around and willing to play. The amount of festivals that sprang up, literally led to the band living on the road most of the Summer, and travelling from one festival to the next.

Hawkdog Line-Up # 1 : June – September 1988
Dave Brock on Guitar, Synths & Vocals
Harvey Bainbridge on Synths & Vocals
Jerry Richards on Lead Guitar & Vocals
Steve Mills on Vocals
Alf Hardey on Keyboards
Mark Bannister on Guitar
Andy Copeland on Drums
Tim Kelsall on Bass Guitar & Vocals

An old quarry in Wick, just outside of Bristol, saw over a thousand people gather towards the end of May for the annual Avon Free Festival, as the grapevine buzzed with the imminent arrival of Hawkwind. The band did indeed show and played for free, then headed off for another gig a few days later. This began the series of gigs performed using the name "Hawkdog". The first was a Stonehenge Benefit near Silchester, and was followed by a gig at the Burghfield Common Festival near Reading. Most of the set included Tubilah Dog numbers like 'Safe Zone', 'Stand Down' and 'Making Love On The Telephone', but also featured covers of 'City Of Tiny Lights' by Frank Zappa, a version of 'Lucifer Sam' by Pink Floyd and 'Saucer Surfing' by Steve Hillage. A few well known Hawkwind numbers featured at the end of the two hour set.

•  05 June 1988     Silchester, Calleva Henge Party
•  11 June 1988     Burghfield Common, Free Festival

Elsewhere, the Hawkdog shows continued throughout the Summer, seeing a performance at the Brecon Free Festival being staged atop a mountain called 'Twm Barlwm' near Cwmbran. The whole site was shrouded in mist and murk the whole weekend, which gave a truly atmospheric feel to the high spirited proceedings. The stage was a little on the small side to accommodate all the musicians, so Dave and Harvey's input to the show was limited, but nonetheless they spent much of the time grooving out in the audience.

A week later, the band arrived in Barnstaple for the Armada Rock Festival. The modest six pound weekend entrance fee was going to a local charity and helped to bring in free festival regulars like 'The Rhytmites', 'Tin Tin Tin' and many more. It was a low-key festival with only a few hundred on site but the atmosphere was great, and the band put on a spectacular performance aided by fire displays from Kris Tait and Scouse, along with conga player Norman Alman from the 'Alman Mulo Band'.
The band were halfway through 'Shot Down In The Night', when police moved in to enforce the midnight curfew, though the smaller second stage continued into the early hours.

Following Barnsaple, the band moved to Cornwall, where they were due to play the Blowinghouse Fayre (part of the Aktivator series of festivals during the Summer). Stopping at a pub in Newquay on the way, they picked up a gig from the landlord, who was a Hawkwind fan and packed the place to the brim for a wild chaotic gig.
They used the fee to get down to the festival, that had now been moved to a park in Mithian. The lightshow here was a combination of 'Black Cat' and 'Crystal Ship Lightshow' and was awesome, with not a piece of canvas left unilluminated.
Other bands appearing were 'Screech Rock', 'Flying Tractors Band' and a number of welded-metal creations from the 'Mutoid Waste Company'.

•  23 July 1988     Cwmbran, Brecon, Free Festival
•  30 July 1988     Barnstaple, Higher Frank Marsh, Armada Rock Festival
•  02 August 1988     Newquay, Famous Firkin
•  06 August 1988     Mithian, Blowinghouse Fayre
•  14 August 1988     Tewkesbury, Bushney Free Festival
•  27 August 1988     Settle, Ribblehead Viaduct, Free Festival
•  01 September 1988     Bodmin Moor, Rough Tor Free Festival

A week later, the band arrived at the Bushney Free Festival near Tewkesbury. Onstage, the band were joined by Nik Turner, who guests for most of the set. Interestingly, this was the first time Nik and Dave had worked together since Westbury three years earlier. The performance also saw two drummers, in Mick Kirton, working with 'Dumpys Rusty Nuts' and Richard Chadwick from the band 'Smart Pils', who also played over the weekend.
The combination of twin drummers and Nik, resulted in some chaotic festival music, thoroughly enjoyed by over two thousand people as well as the band, with Dave later commenting; "it was just like a Pinkwind gig that we used to do years ago". The set included 'Motorway City', 'Psychedelic Warlords', 'Shot Down In The Night', 'Angels Of Death', 'Brainstorm', 'Lost Chronicles', 'Damnation Alley' and lots of improvisation.

On the 14th August, the same day Hawkdog played Tewkesbury, street-poet, lyricist and playwright Robert Calvert died of a heart attack at his home in Margate. He was just forty-three.
His death came at a time when his fortunes were looking up again. His own band 'The Starfighters', were growing from strength to strength and Bob had also recently settled long standing differences with Hawkwind. He'd been actively involved with the planning of a future stage show and Winter tour that the band were working on. The theme of this was based around the 'Ledge Of Darkness', the third book in the Michael Butterworth Hawklords trilogy. Bob was buried on 22nd August at Minster Cemetry on the outskirts of Margate.

The Hawkdog festival shows continued with performances at the Ribblehead Free Festival, that again saw Kris Tait and Scouse providing some fine fire displays, along with others breathing fire from the top of the viaduct that loomed silently over the site near Settle.
A week later saw the last in a series of open air Hawkdog shows at the Rough Tor Festival, located on Bodmin Moor.

The beginning of November saw a short series of inside gigs by the band. By this time, Harvey had opted out and was replaced by Crum, a friend of Dave Brock's who had assisted with keyboards on Dave's second solo album that had been released back in April under the title 'The Agents Of Chaos'.

Hawkdog Line-Up # 2 : November 1988 – May 1989
Dave Brock on Guitar, Synths & Vocals
Jerry Richards on Lead Guitar & Vocals
Steve Mills on Vocals
Alf Hardey on Keyboards
Mark Bannister on Guitar
Andy Copeland on Drums
Tim Kelsall on Bass Guitar & Vocals
Crum on Keyboards

The 'Hawkfrendz Exhibition', concieved and built in memory of Bob Calvert, appears at the Hawkdog gigs for the first time. It consisted of fourteen boards that linked together and upon which were mounted numerous Hawkwind and Calvert related exhibits. The gigs themselves were real crackers, with 'Living On A Knife Edge' being played for the first time, along with other old favourites reworked for the performances.

•  14 November 1988     Birmingham, Kaleidascope Club
•  15 November 1988     Leeds, Phoenix Club (CANCELLED)
•  16 November 1988     London, Camden, Electric Ballroom

1989 continued with another one–off Hawkdog performance in Birmingham, seeing the same line-up as from the previous November shows. Played for the first time here, was the Hawklords track 'The Only Ones'.

•  27 February 1989   Birmingham, Kaleidascope Club

The Hawkdog shows continue sporadically into the Spring inbetween a few Hawkwind gigs, with performances at Leeds (which had been postponed from last November), then a gig in Bristol, followed by a show at Finsbury Park in London. Dave Brock never made it to this gig, so the rest of the band went ahead nonetheless and pulled out all the stops for a blistering performance.

•  15 March 1989     Leeds, Phoenix Club
•  20 March 1989     Bristol, The Bierkeller
•  20 April 1989     Bath, Long Acre Hall
•  23 April 1989     London, Finsbury, Sir George Robey

Come May, there was another couple of one–off gigs. The first was in Walsall, where the band were joined by Alan Davey and Richard Chadwick, giving a huge two drum – two bass presence to a gig that was a real thumper. A week later saw a scaled down performance at the Avon Free Festival on Inglestone Common. Here, Jerry Richards, Alan Davey and Richard Chadwick took to a makeshift stage for several hours of fun and chaos.

•  23 May 1989     Walsall, Junction 10
•  27 May 1989     Inglestone Common, Avon Free Festival

It's worth noting that to date, there have been no official Agents Of Chaos / Hawkdog releases, which is a real shame. However, as with Hawkwind, there are a number of bootleg audios knocking around, which is just as well really, as they were a top free festival band that hopefully one day will have an official release to their name.

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