CPF Spring Edition

support Måneskjold + Yuri Gagarin + Nik Turners New Space Ritual Band
author BV date 03/03/16 venue Stengade, Copenhagen, DEN

Psychedelic rock is bountiful in Copenhagen these days with the plethora of events linked directly and indirectly to initiatives like Copenhagen Psych Fest. Although the main festival takes place in the summer, the initiative’s lust for psych is simply so strong that minor events are popping up year round – like this latest event, Copenhagen Psych Fest Spring Edition. Spanning two days at the semi-central venue Stengade, the lineup featured a diverse ensemble of space, stoner, neo-psych and shoegaze bands clearly divided in two specific days – thusly meaning that the first day was all about heavy, space-rock sounds from bands like Måneskjold, Yuri Gagarin and, most impressive of all, Hawkwind-legend Nik Turner and his New Space Ritual Band as headliners. This was sadly the only day I was able to attend, meaning I would not get to see the bands playing the following day much to my deep regret.

Photos courtesy of Stefan Frank thor Straten

Måneskjold

Without much fuss to it, the first band of the night, Måneskjold, appeared on stage mere fifteen minutes or so after the doors had opened, resulting in an evening of tight but overall effective scheduling. With tracks like “Dødsdrom”, Måneskjold proved what I had initially suspected for a long time – they’re still developing as a live band in spite of actually being quite proficient as is. With a no-frills approach to psychedelic space-punk the five dudes consistently churn out hypnotic riffs from the crunchy bass and the three distinct guitar-sounds each taking off in different directions at any given time, though constantly being vaguely grounded by the effective drumming keeping the matters in check. Moving into familiar, but hard-hitting territory with the somewhat ridiculous, yet awesomely powerful instrumental track “Bilspil” Måneskjold slowly won over the somewhat sparse crowd which had by now appeared in front of the stage as the track collapsed upon itself with the same ferocity with which it had begun.

“Jordslået” is still a personal favorite for me due to the sudden shift from a hard-hitting riff to a fuzzed out, almost droning section acting like a massive comedown from an otherwise energetic trip. The shift is so sudden that I often forget it’s coming, in spite of having that very transition more times than I can count on two hands by now. Nonetheless, it is with another familiar track, “Hun Bor I Jernpyramiden”, that Måneskjold begin reaching their peak of the night as Nik Turner suddenly joins the band onstage – something which was welcomed warmly by the then fast growing crowd. As the track culminated it would seem as if the crowd was hungry for more (as several yells for encores would indicate), resulting in Måneskjold starting off an impromptu jam with Nik Turner based on what sounded like the main riff to Hawkwind’s classic track “Psychedelic Warlords”. I remember thinking to myself just then; ‘if this is the standard for the night, this is gonna be massive.’ Måneskjold did not disappoint at all, leaving me to once again ponder when they might release some studio material.

Yuri Gagarin

Next up on this night was Yuri Gagarin, an outfit I have only seen play live for about 6 minutes before having to rush off to another stage during the previous edition of Copenhagen Psych Fest’s main event. Pleased at a second chance to catch these supposedly masterful stoner rockers live, it was with great anticipation I stood by the side of the stage awaiting their arrival. With tracks like “Sonic Invasion” the crowd was immediately sent to the very fringe of the universe with the heaviest dudes in space. Riff upon riff of utterly shambolic heaviness cascaded upon the now sizeable crowd, with Yuri Gagarin’s members chugging away like there would be no tomorrow. Joined on-stage by Scott Heller (aka Dr. Space), the atmospherics created by his synths would greatly support the general soundscape by providing a lush counterpart to the nonstop bass-grooves and the infinite guitar solos.

I have no idea why such a primal, almost monotonous approach actually works, but it sure as hell does. In spite of their set being entirely instrumental there was not a single moment where I actually yearned for the diversity a vocal melody can provide. I just wanted more riffs – a wish that was supposedly easy to accommodate according to the general progression of Yuri Gagarin’s set. It never quite reaches the same peak for me personally as Måneskjold’s set did. Nonetheless it was nigh impossible to not be completely absorbed by massive riffs from tracks like “The New Order” and “At the Center of all Infinity”.

8

Nik Turner’s New Space Ritual Band

”We are all co-pilots of spaceship Earth. We are out of control. We have lost control. Our air-locks are threatened by cosmic rays. Invasions from the wounded galaxies by the ectoplasmic leeches of pure enthusiasm and the soul's erection of joy. Our portholes daubed with mind-eating acids that corode the perspex shields of vision. Our computers have gone crazy and are in need of electro-therapy. Our fuel tanks dream of explosion; taste and scent phones send messages of peace from long lost earth. We are all co-pilots of spaceship Earth. Your captain is dead. Your Captain is speaking. Your captain is dead. This is your captain speaking. Your captain is dead.” - with these words coming from Robert Calvert’s poem “Co-pilots of Spaceship Earth”, Nik Turner’s New Space Ritual Band kicked off their headlining performance on this Thursday night, by venturing into “Watching the Grass Grow” in a quite ambitious and energetic manner. Turner’s on-stage charisma is stunning to watch and in itself quite impressive – particular when accounting for him being 76 years old. His band seemingly makes use of the bare necessities with a single guitar (no visible effects on the floor), a bass player, a drummer and Dr. Space joining once again for those kaleidoscopic synth-sounds, whilst Turner himself provides the vocals, flute and saxophone needed.

“Reefer Madness” followed and although this is actually a pretty cool track it seemed a bit too bad that the vocals seemed to strain Turner’s voice far more than necessary, even though the band were seriously killing it throughout the instrumental sections with both guitar and saxophone solos still being quite vivid in my memory. Bathed in the beautiful lighting which had dominated the stage all night, Nik Turner (who I had initially believed to be a shadow of his former self) stood there as the veritable legend that he is, with the confidence that comes with it. “Something’s Not Right” is an early peak of the set for me as Turner’s voice perfectly transfers the feeling of anxiety from a bad trip without it ever coming across as corny or forced. Once more I am amazed by how effectively these five musicians in total manage to create such a dense, melodic sound reminiscent of the sound pioneered by Hawkwind which I so love.

“Sonic Savages” was done as a tribute to the now late Lemmy Kilmister, former member of Hawkwind, in a quite subtle and underplayed manner. It was mentioned briefly that it was dedicated to him and the band’s dancer, Angel, held up a small pair of angelic wings with Lemmy written on them in between her manic and hypnotic dancing. Although I unfortunately had to leave briefly before Turner’s set ended, there is no doubt in mind that he managed to live up to (and exceed) my rather great expectations. He is a musical hero of mine, and those have a tendency to disappoint when you’ve already placed them on a pedestal. Although he (and the New Space Ritual Band) are not Hawkwind per se, they’re probably the closest I’ll ever get to see them and if that’s the case, then I can honestly say I’m satisfied. This won’t be the last time I’ll catch Turner’s New Space Ritual Band, if I have anything to say in the matter. Those who weren’t there and are fans of space rock most definitely missed out.

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