27 June 2010

Space Ritual rock the 100 Club

I've seen Space Ritual play in various venues in recent years but I think of the 100 Club as their spiritual home so it was good to see them return there after an absence of something over a year.

Some time may have passed but they eased in to a familiar routine embroidered with a few juicy twists.

They seemed to have found some extra space on the stage and were able to spread themselves wider thus making all the band visible, even Tom and Jerry who usually lose out in the fit-an-eight-man-band-onto-a-small-stage game.

While that is great for the band it does rather mean that when standing in the front-row, as usual, you have to pick who to stand next to, and I went for central-right to cover Nik, Terry and Jerry.

I also hoped that meant that I was far enough away from Nik to be spared the embarrassment of Sutton where I had to sing along to Silver Machine.

The band arrived to the accompaniment of Sam Ollis' decks and the show was on. The set-list had one or two surprises and the music had one or two more.

Most of the sixteen songs listed were much loved regulars but there were also two new songs, Cerberus and Hello Boyz.

The songs bounced, buzzed and bopped along nicely and delivered just what we expected and wanted. So much so that I soon dropped my plan of taking notes (I already had a photo of the set list).

Then things started to change.

Reefer Madness has been a Space Ritual stalwart for as long as I can remember and it has always been delivered the same way, right down to the props used by the Fabulous Ms Angel but tonight it morphed in to something fast and furious. Still spacey but with a harder edge.

Spirit of the Age, probably my favourite Hawkwind song, got a similar treatment.

Other changes were the two new songs, both instrumentals, Jerry stepping forward to do more vocals and the disappearance of Otherworld. I did miss Otherworld but something had to give to make way for the new songs and the new extended plays and that was a good swap.

I do like the 100 Club but the venue does have flaws; two pillars severely restrict the view and the movement of the audience and it does tend to attract more drunks than other venues, one of who was determined to reach the front oblivious to the fact that I was standing directly in the way.

But I don't want to focus on the negatives, these are what you expect when you see lively bands in small venues and it beats getting sprayed with beer.

It was an exceptionally good concert where all the band performed well individually and as a group, treating us to another wonderful evening of space rock that mixed familiarity and novelty in a way that encourages you to come back for more.

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