|Space Ritual live at Aberdeen 9th June 2006
the Lemon Tree had swelled to, oh, at least a dozen people before the doors opened around ten minutes
The stage was set with various instruments and a large sound system stage centre, which turned out to
belong to the support act, Wild P Hucker's Magical Sound Machine. Dry ice swirled and glacial synth
music swelled up from the sound system until, a good five minutes later, Wild P appeared and plugged in
his guitar. Some tasteful noodling and soloing followed for the next half hour, live guitar over recorded
synth and rhythm backing. Only when it stopped did it occur to me that he was actually pretty good. In
terms of presentation, he is a sort of more prog-oriented hippy Spacenutz, in terms of sound more Floyd
than Hawkwind. The album ("Food For Thought") is available at Space Ritual gigs.
The stage was cleared and not much later, to the sound of Captain Beefheart, the main act appeared. John
Greaves sat at the synths stage right. Thom Crimble, dressed in shorts and flowery shirt stage left so tall
he barely fitted under the low ceiling and even sitting down was almost as tall as Mick Slattery who took
up position next to him. Terry Ollis sat at the kit at the back of the stage, barely visible. Dave Anderson
stood on the other side, tall and menacing. Then Uncle Nik, slim and dapper, who did virtually all the
talking, centre stage (where else?).
From the opening "Welcome", Space Ritual showed that they can do Hawkwind if they choose but mostly
they don't. "The Right Stuff" followed, slowed right down and, following an unfamiliar instrumental track,
a measured, slow-paced "Born To Go" - again given a thorough workover so that it sounds fresh. A new
track, "Time Travellers" (?) followed, then an authentic "Sonic Attack". "Orgone Accumulator" is funky,
"D-Rider" sedate and elegant, "Brainstorm" really wild. Then we get the single, "Sonic Savages" - okay but
not great - and "Ejection".
Their sound tends towards jazz, even dance music and the slimmed-down band is, basically disciplined,
sophisticated and shit hot. Mick Slattery is an excellent lead guitarist and Nik shines on sax and
(occasional) flute. Thom Crimble adds jazzy keyboard fills and the Anderson/Ollis axis locks everything
firmly into a rock solid groove. And then there is Angel, who appears in various costumes, each one more
risque than the last, culminating in a nurse's uniform ("Brainstorm") and rubber nun's outfit ("Ejection"),
dancing wherever there was space on stage and with audience members during â€œBrainstorm".
I'm not sure what's happened to the various other players and dancers who have graced the stage with
Space Ritual in recent times. Frankly they wouldn't have fitted on the stage and I doubt that they would
have added anything. Space Ritual have, somewhat ironically, morphed from an amateurish free-for-all
into a genuinely first rate professional band.
The encore - sort of as the band didn't even leave the stage - nowhere to go -comprised "Watching The
Grass Grow" and "Master Of The Universe" (all three verses, as done by ICU). Less than 100 people were
at the gig but the band looked like they were having fun, even Dave Anderson, and the crowd certainly
were. And the album should be out soon, Nik says. As I bought an autographed 12" single (available at the
gigs, along with most other things they've produced), Nik reappeared on stage, playing the Pink Panther
theme and he was still playing as I left, the eternal showman. Forget the politics and enjoy - Space Ritual
deserve your attention!
|Above & right: both photos (c) Melissa Joseph 2006
& used by permission
The two pics shown here are relevant to the text but
are actually from a different occasion - Space Ritual
playing live at the 100 Club on 7th April 2006.
|Thanks to Graham P for this review
My expectations of this were fairly low, given the
dodgy live albums produced in the name of
X-Hawkwind and SpaceRitual.net, and the slightly
underwhelming recent single. On a pleasant summer
evening, by Aberdeen standards, the queue outside