29 December 2017

Nik Turner's Brand New Space Ritual at Borderline (December 2015)

Nik Turner's Space Ritual had their farewell performance at Borderline in November 2014 and this was quickly followed by a performance by Nick Turner's New Space Ritual at Borderline in April 2015. Things changed again and the visitors to Borderline in December 2017 were billed as Nik Turner's Brand New Space Ritual.

This time the Space Ritual we saw was decidedly different and because of the line-up changes they sounded very different too. Apart from Nik, the one familiar face was Gary Smart on bass. The biggest change was the lack of a keyboard player. This left the band with a very definite 4-1 formation with bass, drums, guitar and electronic noises in a line across the back and Nik leading on saxophone, flute and all the vocals.

Borderline was new too. The stage was in the same place but the bar had moved to face it. It had also gone very black. The best thing about the change was the new lighting as the old stuff made photography almost impossible.

The lack of keyboards probably accounted for the more rocky sound. The music also felt faster than before though there was no obvious reason for this.

The set list was a little different also. It started with several songs from their 2007 album Otherworld, hit a high point in the middle with a stunning sequence of Steppenwolf, D-Rider and Orgone Accumulator (always a favourite of mine), and hit another towards the end with Master of the Universe and Brainstorm. Amongst this familiar stuff there were several songs that I did not know, though other audience members did, which I guess means that they came from other Nik Turner projects.

After something over an hour and a half of furious and fabulous playing the final encore was the final surprise, a version of Glenn Miller's In The Mood that kept pausing then restarting faster than before. An apt ending to an evening full of surprises and high points.

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