6 March 2011

Space Ritual at The Borderline

Somehow I only got to see Space Ritual twice in 2010 so it was good to see them again early this year.

The last time was back in May when I wrote that I thought of the 100 Club as their spiritual home but due to changes at that venue that proved to be their last show there.

So welcome to The Borderline just round the corner from Foyles.

This was my first event there and I took an immediate liking to the venue. Where the 100 Club is a simple flat rectangle with a bar at one of the short ends The Borderline is more like a bar with different levels, different areas and two bars in the centre of the action.

The only down side is that lack of a decent bitter, and no Beck's either, so I was reluctantly forced on to the American Budweiser which I normally avoid as a mark of solidarity with the Czech Budvar.

The bottle of beer secured I claimed a place next to the stage. Picking where to stand is always an issue with Space Ritual as they fill the stage and this time I chose to go to the left next to where Mick Slattery would be standing, but you've probably guessed that.

Also there were Facebook friends Pete, Adrian, Robert, Nick, Melissa and Joanne. Space Ritual gigs are social occasions too.

Space Ritual always have an issue with arranging themselves on the stage due to their numbers and the need to leave space for Ms Angel to dance in. They solved that problem this tie by adopting a strict 4-4 formation.

The front line (L-R) was Chris Purdon, Mick Slattery, Nik Turner and Thomas Crimble (facing forwards for a change). Spread across the back were Sam Ollis, Terry Ollis and new boy Gary Smart. That left a narrow corridor in the middle for Ms Angel to strut her stuff in.

Gary Smart's arrival on bass allowed this new formation as he does not sing at all, unlike Jerry Richards, so has no need to come forward. This allowed Thomas Crimble to face the front rather than to sit side-on and created the space in the middle for Ms Angel.

But that was the only noticeable change and musically Space Ritual were more or less as expected. I did take a photo of a set list at the start but they did not keep to that so I'll have to work from unreliable memory.

The set list they actually played seemed to be similar to that from last year with less of a reliance on some old favourites (e.g. no Orgone Accumulator or Spirit of the Age), a fair clutch of songs from their last studio album, Otherworld from 2007, and all songs played with extended funky riffs.

It really worked.

The crowd, helped I think by the layout of the place, really got in to the music and their was a manic mosh pit towards the end and some crowd surfing from Ms Angel.

Pleasingly it was their own song, Otherworld, that got the most positive reaction.

The last section of the set got a little weird. The band were joined by several more musicians including two French horns and a clarinet for a sequence that included a Charlie Mingus song. By then the crowd was so happy that even that was received rapturously.

Brainstorm ended the evening, as it should, and sense and order were resumed.

This was Space Ritual on absolute top form and reminding me just why I go to all of their gigs that I can. They are still very special.

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