11 January 2013

Space Ritual at The Borderline (January 2013)

It is one of life's great disappointments that I was only able to see Space Ritual play once in 2012, and that was in January.

Obviously I was not going to miss an opportunity to see them early in 2013 and so I was back at the Borderline where I saw them 12 months previously.

Their website had hinted at changes in the band but these proved to be simple mistakes and omissions and the line-up was almost exactly the same as previously.

The big difference was that the two drummers were reduced to one. Surprisingly the one was not Terry Ollis though he was seen there with the band on the night.

The second change was that the small brass and woodwind troupe (of three) that had appeared towards the end of performances were there from the very start.

The final change was a minor one to the layout on the stage with Chris Purdon and his electronic gizzmos edging more towards the centre of the stage from his banishment on the far left. That made more space for Sam Ollis' decks.

The mathematics are simple. If you put more people on the stage and give two of the band more space then the centre is going to be very cramped. So much so that the energetic Ms Angel was forced in to unusual places and unusual postures to do her dances.

Musically Space Ritual are very assured and practised in what they do, which is take a familiar song, add an extended jam to the middle and then return to the original song to close.

The songs they chose this time were firmly traditional with a few from their last album (Otherworkd from 2007) and the expected Hawkwind classics such as Master of the Universe and Brainstorm which appeared at the very end, as usual.

There was a set-list but only one copy and that was kept in Nik's pocket. This was no bad thing as Space Ritual have experimented with proper set-lists in the past only to abandon them during the set, much to the confusion of some of the band.

The extended jams meant fewer songs and I liked that. I would much rather hear extended versions of songs like Orgone Accumulator than a selection of shorter poppier songs.

I like the sound of this Space Ritual too. The brass and woodwind were used only intermittently but effectively and the extra space allocated to Chris and Sam meant that we got all the spacey bleeps and whoops that we wanted.

This is Space Rock with a strong pedigree which has been heavily mixed with funk and a splash of jazz to make something that is unique and special.

The band seemed willing to play all night, and we would have loved them to, but the Borderline had other things to do and so we had to leave before 10:30. That still gave Space Ritual two hours to play with and they filled the time effortlessly and enjoyably.

Despite the stagecraft suggesting that they are disorganised, the music does not lie and Space Ritual are a remarkable band where all eleven people on stage know their parts and play them expertly.

There are rumours of a new album with new songs but none of these were on show this night. Hopefully they will be given an airing soon and I'll be there to hear them. Until than I have the memories of another wonderful evening to sustain me.

1 comment:

  1. From memory, Terry Ollis has broken his hand (hence him not playing).


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