NIK TURNER/SPACE RITUAL
I've lived all my life in Somerset, but I've never been to Frome. Until tonight.
But I really liked what I saw of the place - it felt like I was coming home to...something. It was def. my kinda town.
Space Ritual were a bit disappointing; even tho it was a bigger venue/better sound/light-show/etc, I didn't enjoy them as much as the last time I saw 'em.
In fairness, the band had all their gear nicked a couple days earlier, so had to scrabble together some borrowed kit. The only keyboard was a pretty naff digital Roland pub-band thingy, so no swoooooshing space noises, etc. "All I've got are the clothes I'm wearing," said Nik Turner. "They took everything except my sax." (which he hugged closely in case someone in the audience was about to mug him for it.) "I haven't got any clothes...so if someone wants to give me some clothes, I wouldn't say 'no'." He paused and eyed the audience suspiciously, like a cross between Fagin and Wilfred Bramble (who he is beginning to resemble more closely each time I see him): "But they've got to be weird ones. I only want weird clothes."
Other reasons for diminished enjoyment:
1) The absence of Space-rock bass-god Dave Anderson , who wasn't playing on these dates and had been replaced on bass by Jerry Richards, a veteran of a 1990s line-up of Hawkwind.
2) Band still a bit stiff w/ new material; Turner reading his lyrics from a sheet. Not that I've ever done anything like that...
3) The appearance of Splodginessabounds lookalike Ron Tree from much-maligned '95-ish incarnation of Hawkwind (I don't rate 'em much after about '75/'76 to be honest...there's the odd tune or two that's okay...) - I really don't need someone barking "C'mawwwwn - feeeeel it!" during "Masters of The Universe" or reminding us every 5 minutes that he's got paintings or CDs of his band for sale. I'm sure he's prob. a lovely bloke, but...
Turner looked knackered at points - recent events have obv. conspired against him - but then he'd get the odd burst of energy and enthusiasm and try'n jolly things up. He's certainly an old trouper.
Why do I put myself thru this? Well, this is the remnants of early 70s Hawkwind, fer christsake, so fucking respect due. Plus: I really am rooting for them; there's a perverse, self-defeating need for them to be great again one last time. Plus it's fun: they're like Hawkwind on a budget; pantomine space-rock - they have the band's spirit, but not Brock's cash-backing. And there are occasional flashes of brilliance.
Mick Slattery's a really good guitarist, tho, as I've said before, they really do need a pumping rhythm-guitar under all this. And it was worth going for the last 15 minutes alone. The newer stuff sounded like it would have been good with the right equipment and a few more performances. I could see where they were trying to go with it all.
New album "Otherworld" is not bad at all (better than anything Brock's bunch have done for a couple decades)...a little patchy in places, but well worth a listen if, like me, yr a sucker for this nonsense:
The album's produced by Dave Anderson. The title track's scarily catchy and ever so slightly touching; there's a vague sense of wistful melancholy about lost friends and so forth. "Walking Backwards" recaptures some of the pump and swagger of early H/wind, but there's a soft edge to it that they never had in their youth. I Like "Sonic Savages" too.
Bubbling and swooshy noises are all present and correct, tho a bit too digital-sounding, maybe. There's some reworked versions of old spoken word interludes like "The Black Corridor," and some Moorcock lyrics here and there, but I'm not familiar enough with their later material to say whether this is old stuff or whether he's graced them with some new lyrics. Turner's own lyrics are pretty good in places - they're playful and punning, full of retro-futuristic slang and wordplay - it's like he's invoked the spirit of Bob Calvert from the "Quark, Strangeness & Charm" era, but without the manic depression. All in all, though, a good effort and worth checking if yr an elderly space-rocker like me.
The gig ended, as they all do, with Turner serenading the road-crew and the straggling remains of the audience with cheesy busker style versions of "Tequila" and "In the Mood" (last time I saw them, he played "The Pink Panther Theme"! ).
"Did you like that?" he asked, grinning ear to ear for the first time that night. "Would you like some more?" Turner can't seem to help himself, bless 'im - I suspect he'll still be playing his sax when they lower him into the ground.