10 May 2008

Space Ritual at 100 Club


Space Ritual concerts are special but rare events so I go to all of them that I can but fates conspired against me in 2007 and the last time that I managed to get to a concert was back in December 2006. So it was with great anticipation that I went to see them recently at the 100 Club in the centre of London.

The evening got off to a good start. Before we had got our first drinks in we had met up with several people that we had met at previous gigs, including the Fabulous Ms Angel herself.

Space Ritual adopt a flexible 1-1-2-3-1 formation. Terry Ollis (drums) holds the fort admirably at the back and gives the band the freedom to play knowing that their back line is solid. Jerry Richards (bass) provides rhythm but also makes forward runs to sing backing vocals. Chris Mekon (warbling) and Sam Ollis (techno stuff) occupy the two wings to provide width and to make the sort of noises that make space rock spacey. Mick Slattery (guitar), Thomas Crimble (keyboards) and Nik Turner (sax and flute) conjure the rich texture to the extended jams and swap roles to allow each other to take the lead as the songs evolve. Finally, the Fabulous Ms Angel dances, cavorts and entices from the front but also moves freely around the stage to play off the other band members.

Musically, Space Ritual do what is says on the tin. They play a lot of Hawkwind songs and sound much like Space Ritual era Hawkwind. But while the set ended with two classics from this period (Master of the Universe and, obviously, Brainstorm) most of the Hawkwind songs came from the late 70s, e.g. Steppenwolf, Right Stuff and D-Rider. They also played several songs from their recent Otherworld album, which is a good thing, particularly as this included the title track.

I did not manage to get a copy of the full set list, nor did I try and write one down, but I estimate that they played 10 to 12 songs in their set of 140 minutes. Keen mathematicians will have worked out that the songs were quite long. The extended song length comes from simply extending the main line and letting the three front men pay loose on top of it. These jams define the Space Ritual sound and are why I go to see them play live.

There are only a few select bands that I go to whenever I can because of the quality of the music and the way that they make a special event from paying familiar songs, and Space Ritual is one of these.

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