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« March 22, 2013

Nik Turner performs 'Space Ritual'

Final SXSW Live Shots
Review by Richard Whittaker

Nik Turner performs 'Space Ritual'

Rebels Honky Tonk, March 15

Did Rebels regulars have a clue? Not in setting immaculate black Resistol hats on the bar and challenging a mechanical bull while space rock pioneer Nik Turner took the stage. The septuagenarian saxophonist's voice seemed frail at first as he struggled with a malfunctioning mic. Then the black interstellar visor came down over his eyes for the hippie swirl of "Earth Calling," and it was countdown to launch. With the bludgeoning barrage of "Born to Go," Hawkwind's 1973 double live album, Space Ritual, emerged from its cosmic crypt as a leviathan. Freed from patchouli-stained reminiscence, the stoner classic roared like a Mastodon and winked to Eyehategod. The signature swirling synthesizer, culled from Martian winds ripping through canyons, remains as cosmic as Marvel Comics' Galactus. Yet the double axe attack was a smash to the throat, mixing Jürgen Engler's Teutonic snipe and snarl with Geoff Miles' crushing resurrection of Dave Brock's engine roar. Sometimes the band made space for Turner's improvisations, but often he charged through or layered himself over the brutal background. Invigorated, alive, he recited Michael Moorcock and Bob Calvert's cryptic survival instructions from "Sonic Attack." By that point, even the damned mechanical bull was fixed toward the stage.

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