"Silver Machine," Hawkwind's so unexpected but most richly deserved first hit single, was still sliding down the U.K. chart when the band arrived at the BBC's Paris Theatre, the full panoply of the Space Ritual in tow, to condense into one hour a show that twice as long could barely contain. That they were able to squeeze just eight songs (two are uncredited on the sleeve) into the allotted space proves that the demands and restrictions of radio held no fear for the band -- even the In Concert program's production crew was roped into the fantasy, as the band's resident DJ Andy Dunkley introduces the band and readies the staff with his own approximation of some demented Mission Control. And that's before close to 15 minutes of "Born to Go" open the sonic heavens.
Mantric, riff-pounding versions of "Master of the Universe" and "Brainstorm" maintain the bludgeoning, the remorseless march of the leviathans interrupted only as an eerie "Black Corridor" feeds into a sparse but impassioned "Seven By Seven." Coming out the other side, "Paranoia" is a dense exercise in insistent chant and improvisation, and a quite unlikely (but so effective) prelude to "Silver Machine." Faster and wilder than the familiar hit version, it effortlessly drifts into a powerful "Welcome to the Future," the band's traditional set closer and still one of the most foreboding farewells you will ever hear. Of course, BBC Radio One Live in Concert is no match whatsoever for Space Ritual itself -- how could it be? But among the myriad live Hawkwind albums that have appeared in the years since this was recorded, it has absolutely no peers whatsoever.