Hawkwind guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton, after his death at just 61 in December 2012, becomes a central focus of this multi-artist two-DVD release from Cleopatra Records.
Space Rock Invasion: Live from the Key Club was recorded in Hollywood, California, on September 3, 2011, and also features Brainticket as well as a second disc of performances by Roy Albrighton and Nektar, and interviews with the featured acts.
I’ve kept coming back, however, to Langton, who died after a long battle with cancer and other ailments.
The guitarist, part of 10 Hawkwind albums between 1970-88, opens with a withering indictment of racism on the fleet, solo number “Wars of the Hobby There,” then tears into “Hurry on Sundown” — the 1970 Hawkwind track. Presented without the period-piece cadence, and in a lower key than Dave Brock first sang it, Langton is as focused and full of gravelly forboding in song as he is winking, even a little loopy, with his between-song banter.
His loss is keenly felt in both regards. Langton could be funny and offbeat then, just as completely transcendent with his instrument. He occupied a place not unlike Pink Floyd’s doomed co-founder Syd Barrett in that way.
Members of Brainticket, who would follow Langton on this concert bill, begin joining Langton for “Solitary Mind Games,” from Hawkwind’s 1982′s album Choose Your Masques. The original track, which its spare portent, doesn’t sound that much different than this one, right down to the Nik Turner-ish flute. But Langton simply comes alive with the lyric.
Then, there’s the closing “Rocky Paths,” originally a driving number from 1981′s aptly named Sonic Attack. Brainticket adds a tough attitude here, much in keeping with the initial track’s almost heavy-metal feel, and Huw Lloyd-Langton — in what, alas, may be one of his last new live recordings — says something prophetic: “We all know about rocky paths, right?”
Then, well, he just rocks his ass off. A fitting final image.
Huw Lloyd-Langton was memorialized at a December 20, 2012 service in front of family and colleagues. A public event is in the works, including the unveiling of a memorial with a commemorative plaque where fans and friends can gather to remember the guitarist. He was the second of Hawkwind’s members to pass last year, following original bassist John Harrison.