Eclipse Animation        Cornwall  '99
Carleen Eclipse Party
Shooting Star Animation
Total Solar Eclipse
11th August 1999
11:10a.m BST
Hawkeye Site Links
    

With the prospect of tail backs stretching for miles, we set off for Cornwall about 5 in the morning, stopping briefly at Bristol before picking a friend up at the services on the M5.
By the time we reached the outskirts of Exeter and forked off onto the A30, there was surprisingly little traffic. To our amazement, it wasn't until Redruth that the forecasted jams hit, but by then, we only had a mile or two to go before heading onto the smaller Cornish roads. The predicted taffic chaos never materialised as the number of people heading for the far South Western tip of Britain was far below expectations.
Excessive campground and room charges, plus the prospect of 50 mile traffic jams had put people off.

Whatever the reason, the Cornish Tourist Industry had blown it.

Arriving at the small village of Carleen just after 1 o'clock, we soon found the site for the Eclipse Party, with the added bonus of Hawkwind. As we drove into the field, it became apparent that this was gonna be a small, but nonetheless mellow gathering. There was perhaps a hundred or so people pitched up by cars in their tents, in vans and an old bus.
Got the tent up and went for a wander. Spotted Neil and Marie and sat for a chat. It wasn't long before Dibs appeared too and was the first time since the end of 1997 that I'd seen them all.
As we sat there, rumours were circulating that Hawkwind were to play that night. Meanwhile, after a long drive, I opted to get my head down for a few hours in the afternoon sun.

By early evening i was up and got some food going. The skies were still clear and this sent a buzz around the site for tomorrow morning. We found a fire to warm up by and met some friendly souls, one of whom, a guy from Plymouth, had seen the directions to the party on the Hawkeye site. As we stood around talking and toking, the news that Hawkwind wouldn't be playing tonight had begun to filter through.
It was now decided the band would play twice the following day. The first set was to be just after the total eclipse, while they'd return to the stage again later during the night. This sounded fine to me, and after not seeing the band live since Guildford in 1997, the prospect of twice in one day was all i could have asked for.

Wednesday morning dawned, up early for a wash in the block, which despite being advised to bring a shovel, had flushing loos and hot water. Luxury !! After a spot of breakfast, met the guy from Plymouth and just before 10 o''clock we headed up the hill. Overhead, the clouds were closing in fast, black and ominous. It wasn't long before it began to drizzle and by the time we got to the top of the hill, it was obvious the cloud was there to stay. The view, however, was fairly spectacular. St. Michael's Mount in the distance on the right and Helston on the left with the sea directly in front.
After the pleasant space and friendliness of the campsite, the hill was packed with people and it took us a while to find a quiet spot. By now it was about a quarter of an hour to totality. Looking around, the black clouds were really bellowing, that in itself made the land look rather dull. Cornwall in the sun is a wonderful sight and having been down nearby St. Ives and Redruth numerous times over the last couple of years, this was perhaps the first time I'd seen the landscape probably how it usually was.

Just before 11 o'clock, the surrounding land suddenly began to darken very quickly. The wind picked up and it became alot cooler. We stood there looking around as darkness crept upon the land and this was really a very strange sight.
Everything went quiet, the birds fell silent and as totality arrived, the wind dropped and it went pitch black. It reminded me of a scene from Mike Moorcock's "The War Hound & The World's Pain", and you could imagine how ancient tribes freaked over
total eclipses. Although the cloud obscured the sun and moon, it really was a bizarre sight. It was like night in the middle of the day. The nearby towns illuminated and street lamps came on. In the distance, over the sea, the clouds gave off a perculiar orange glow. This was totality. Inland, all around you could see camera flashes going off, though I hazzard to guess what they expected to capture on film as the cloud cover, if anything, had increased.

Then, all of a sudden, there was light. This was particularly odd, it was like someone turning on a dimmer switch. The sun had obviously reappeared and it grew as suddenly light, as it had dark just a few moments before. It was all so quick, but for us, it was anything but an anti–climax. I think being on top of the hill had given us a taste and we'd love to see another total eclipse somewhere in the world, although I read the next one in Britain is in 2090, so unless I reach my 122nd birthday with my eyesight fully functional, it'll have to be elsewhere.

We made our way back down the hill to the campsite. Going down always easier than going up, and once back, decided to get a bite to eat as Hawkwind were rumoured to soon start. It was as we finished that we heard the familiar sound from the marquee in the next field. Hawkwind were starting a little over an hour since the eclipse. We hastily packed all the gear away and made our way to the stage as the band ran through Ejection.
We arrived and found a small gathering inside the canvas, everyone chilling out and the waft of the smoke instantly hitting you head on. People were sitting down, dancing, milling about, and kids were having a great time as Rizz ran through an extended version of Your Fantasy. It was definately ambient style in the early afternoon.

The rest of the set became a little hazy, undoubtedly aided by the music that the band were playing. I stood there witnessing the most loose set I'd ever seen from Hawkwind. There was endless improvisation and extended jams and only the occasional recognisable song. This was magical stuff that was very hard to describe. I was enthralled, and the band were certainly relaxed.
Midway through, Richard got up from behind his drums to take the lead mike and lay down some rare vocals for a song dedicated to the Sun. Elsewhere on stage, Mitzi danced, aided by her luminous umbrella that she twirled around one minute and then wandered offstage for more room the next.

Next came a stunning version of Spirit Of The Age, that again extended into a long jam before finally closing down. A personal favourite and a real plesure to hear again after so long. The set closed with the new number Hippy, the first time it had been played live. It was a stonker, so much better than the album version. The band announced they'd be back later and everyone wandered off into the afternoon.
Meanwhile, we decided to drive down to St. Michael's Mount, which on reflection was a bad move. The traffic as we neared Marizion and Penzance was at a stanstill, and to top it all, there was a radio roadshow on the beach. Loads of people and cars, so we rode round for a bit before heading back to Carleen.

Hawkwind at CarleenAs the sun slowly headed for the horizon, a buzz went round that Hawkwind would be on again just after 9 o'clock. This is how it should be. Hawkwind twice a day. After some delicious hot food, we wandered over to the marquee as the engines were once again being fired.
The backing tape of Don't Understand began wafting out from the canvas and across the neighbouring fields. The lyrics to Earth Calling were used, along with Dave's trademark slide guitar runs. The intro to Hawkwind's second set somehow threw me back a decade to those carefree Summer days at those small free festivals. The sonic energy was blistering, it was gonna be a good night.
Oh Yes!

The intro led into the countdown and Aerospaceage Inferno erupted from the speakers. It was clear that the sound was vastly improved to that of the earlier performance, much more crisp, almost electrifying. The track went up, hit that high and came down for Ron Tree to read the lyrics to another Bob Calvert piece, this time Wage War. He did a fine job and as he came to a close, the familiar guitar notes signalled the beginning of Motorway City.
Jerry Richard's guitar work was something else during this track, which had always been a favourite of mine and i was delighted. Everyone gathered seemed pleased too as the band ran through a great version of the early 1980's classic that goes so well within the environment of the great outdoors.

Hawkwind at CarleenNext up came the opening keys of Assault And Battery, which, as ever went down a storm at turbo speed. Out of this flowed The Golden Void, and it was from here that the band stepped up a gear. Dave's vocals are just awesome, and as the track entered the end ramble, a really blistful sound emerged backed by some fine keyboards and egged on by Richard's top notch drumming.

The almost hypnotic, dream like state was abruptly shattered by the onslaught of Alchemy. The number just gets faster and faster every time it's played. Following this came a new song called Anna Seed. Rather slow and obviously in it's infancy, Ron Tree took care of vocals and the entertainment was added to by fire eaters just outside the entrance to the marquee, and for once, the band could have a full view of the fire displays. Meanwhile, Hawkwind launched into Arrival In Utopia. For me, this was the highlight, a really powerful, almost raw version that contained the best middle section I'd ever heard.

Captain Rizz came on stage to lay down probably his best vocals. The effect of Rizz's vocals, aided by a mixture of short and lingering guitar notes, some almost sinister synth effects and more of Dave's slide guitar produced a climatic peak of earthly sound which could have gone on for ever. There was just so much happening within the sound. This is what Hawkwind are masters of, conjurers of chaos, frenzied sounds and sonic energy.

More soon ..... I'll get there in the end folks !!

Special thanks to Mick Crook for the photos.


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