13 February 2010

Space Ritual shine in Sutton

Space Ritual are one of the few bands that I whenever I can and the Boom Boom Club in Sutton is my nearest serious venue (the 371 and 213 buses do it) so when Space Ritual announced that they were playing there getting a ticket was one of the easiest decisions that I've ever made. And one of the better ones too.

On the door was the event promoter, Pete Feenstra, and I was able to remind him that I suggested that he booked Space Ritual when I bumped in to him on a tube last year after a Sparks gig.

The venue may work alright as a social club attached to a (not very good) football club but as a gig venue it has some limitations, notably the low ceiling that hurts the acoustics and sucks in all the passing light.

The lighting was less of a problem this time as Space Ritual had brought there own to boost the club's and I got there early enough to get my preferred spot right at the front which was close enough for the dim light to reach.

I was helped in this by the club layout which, I guess driven by the large number of tickets sold, was in normal concert mode rather than having the tables and chairs, cabaret style, that they have had on other occasions.

The stage itself is rather good and offered Space Ritual more, er, space than they are sometimes used to. This was just as well as they had the full compliment of seven musicians and the diverting dancer Ms Angel, who were joined at the end by a guest saxophonist and a youthful drummer - that's ten artists on stage at the same time!

Musically the set was similar in construction and feel to that which I had heard in Notting Hill in December, though they were had Sam Ollis back on decks and the mix was a lot cleaner.

It was Sam who set things in motion around 8:30 with his mixes with the band joining him on stage just after 9pm. No idea if it was driven by the needs of the stage or by something more musical but the line-up across the stage was a little unusual with Jerry Richard (bass) and Mick Slattery (lead) swapping positions either side of Nik Turner (bossman). One benefit of this was that we got to see more of Jerry who has tendencies to wear black and to hide in the dark places at the back to the stage.

Some child must have been put in charge of the set lists as they were scrawled in pencil rather than the expected thick black marker pen. The later is easily photographed for people, like me, wanting an easy way to keep a record of the songs but with only pencil to look at I had to take my own notes. This is what I think they played (with obvious shorthand!); Right Stuff, Grass Grow, Ravaged Earth, Refer Madness, Otherworld, Atomik, Spaceship Earth, Steppenwolf, Orgone, Sonic Savages, Walking Backwards, Brainstorm, Master, and Silver Machine.

But the list tells you little about the sound which has matured and evolved over the last year or so. The songs are sometimes little more than familiar excuses to engage in extended jams before returning to the point of departure. These jams are smooth, jazzy, rocky and spacey in varied mixes that keep the Space Ritual mood going for over two hours without repetition, hesitation or deviation.

The official set list got abandoned somewhere towards the end (just as well that I was not relying on a photo of it) as the band had quick team meetings to discuss what music to fit in to the little time left for them by the promoter who (worried by the club's
harsh curfew) appeared on stage to close the act and then was in the audience to encourage them to play one more song :-?

That final song was an unexpected Silver Machine which got us all singing along joyfully if not tunefully. Equally unexpected was Nik's idea of crown involvement which started with him sticking a mike in my face! I had no option but to sing/shout, "I've got a, Silver Machine!!". That was fun for me if not for anybody else.

It take a special kind of skill to play such old songs for two hours and to maintain your own and the audience's rich enthusiasm throughout, but Space Ritual managed this with almost casual ease. That's why they are such a great band live.

My favourite twenty photos from the gig (I took lots!) are on Facebook at
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=382537&id=598910036&l=051b10ec97, I hope you like them. Some people do and I've picked up a few more Facebook friends as a result :-)

And I expect I'll be meeting up with some friends and taking a few more photos when I next see Space Ritual play, hopefully at the 100 Club in May.

1 comment:

  1. OK Re The The Boom Boom Club, which would you prefer? an unfriendly barn of a place with unfriendly, sometimes hostile people with no feel for the music, or a room at a football club with reasonable bar, friendly people, a music friendly environment, good stage, good sight lines, big free car pârk and no gorrilas on the door? Your choice.
    Yes its not Wembley, but sure it sure as hell beats most other rip off venues of its size size in terms of quality of music, presentation, price and promotion;
    Ove the last few years the club has hosted Man, Walter Trout, Joe Bonamassa, MT's Wishbone Ash, Pat Travers, Leslie West's Mountain, Jefferson Starship, Michael Schenker, Kebin Ayers, Roger Chapman, The Zombies, Madeline Bell, Fish, The Yardbirds, Skinny Molly, Mick taylor, Nine Below Zero, Eric Sardinas, Coco Montoya, The Blockheads, Stan Webb's Chicken Shack, Albert Lee and many more...all on people's doorstep, with no artificial bookings fees, no dress code, no any kind of financial add-ons and with an open mind that realises that once or twice some people need to sit down!
    Those observations apart, Space Ritual were cool and we will even overlook the fact NTurner (70 this year) had to read Michael Moorcock's and Calvert's space poetry from a crib sheet;
    But then what do we know, we are but mere mortals who like to spend time in their local club, in an environment which whether you are gay, a hippy, a 60's music lover or gasp a rock fan doesnt matter, nor for that matter does a low ceiling for 5 imaginary ducks on the wall paper!!(must be the drugs we do down there) christ we must really be unhip!!!
    Normal Norman


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