| Cornwall '99
Carleen Eclipse Party
|Total Solar Eclipse
11th August 1999
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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 anticlimax. 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.
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.
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.
As 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 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.
Next 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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