10 April 2015

The new Space Ritual were very much like the old Space Ritual, I am pleased to say

In November I went to the last ever Space Ritual concert, which was held at the Borderline. Just under five months later I was back there to see the first ever gig from the new Space Ritual.

The band had been forced to have something of a rethink because we all wanted them to carry on and made that abundantly clear at the end of the previous gig.

Apparently the reason for Space Ritual's demise was Mick Slattery's reluctance to tour, rather than because of any nasty personal feuds or irreconcilable musical differences. So it was something of a surprise to see Mick on stage with the band. It transpired that the reluctance to tour meant a reluctance to play away from London so playing with the re-born Space Ritual at the Borderline was not a problem for him and was a pleasant surprise for us.

Also on stage was Mick's replacement, 'Boy Wonder' Stephen Jones. Stephen bowed to Mick's seniority in the band and despite being the new lead guitarist he stood a little behind the man he replaced. This seemed to work well and while I am not expecting Stephen to try and copy Mick he was able to learn something from him by playing on stage together.

The (partial) substitution of Stephen for Mick was the only difference between the old and the new Space Rituals.

The audience was slightly different though. Despite being fairly early somebody had nabbed my usual left-of-centre position and so I decided to take a risk and go right-of-centre instead. That took me away from Mick, Stephen and Chris but it was nice to be closer to Thomas and Gary for a change.

The new Space Ritual sounded very much like the old Space Ritual so everybody was happy.

I did not keep notes at the time or try to get a set list at the end but I think that it is fair to say that all the usual favourites were there. I normally find the older Hawkwind songs sound the best to me so I was a little surprised to find myself enjoying the several songs from their last album (2007's Otherworld) the most.

If anything they jammed even more before and as that is what they do best I was delighted with that. I love the way that they take a song somewhere new and play with it for several minutes before returning back to where they started.

The funky bit where they are lost in the middle of a song is also where the band seems to be happiest and no more so than Gary who bounced uncontrollably despite wearing a suit for the occasion.

Space Ritual were a lot of fun and entertained mightily. Once again that led to hopes of more gigs to come. And next time I'll try and get there early enough to claim my rightful place at the front slightly left-of-centre.

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