So who the devil are Space Ritual, some of you might be asking?
The clue is in the name. Back in 1973 Hawkwind released their 4th album, the live LP Space Ritual, a disc that many traditional Hawkwind fans see as their greatest ever work.
At that time, in Hawkwind's now 40-year career, Nik Turner was a key-player, right the way up until his departure in 1977. Space Ritual is basically ex-Hawkwind, or a lot of the old members who are not in Dave Brock's Hawkwind. (Who is in Hawkwind these days apart from the Captain himself and Richard Chadwick? Bass Assassin No. 2, the awesome Alan Davey, is no longer with them, so the ship has but a rudder and only a skeleton crew.)
So last night's concert was at the appropriately-named Thomas Tripp in Christchurch, Dorset, a little town where I used to live when I was very young, infact it was probably around the time that Hawkwind were recording the live set for their Space Ritual LP. The venue was pretty small (a long, narrow hall) but the stage and the light-show were fantastic.
Nik Turner, top bloke, lead singer and saxophonist-extraordinnaire, was joined by guitarist Mick Slattery, drummer Terry Ollis, Chris 'Mekon' Purdon on electronic noises, ivory-tickler Thomas Crimble and rock-steady bassist, Jerry Richards. There was also some chick dancing, with speed o' light costume changes!
Kicking off with Robert Calvert's Right Stuff from Captain Lockheed & The Starfighters was certainly the right stuff, baby, the right stuff. That set the scene completely with the UVs, whirling projectors and all the visual psychedelia that you expect from such a fantastic collection of space rock veterans.
I have to admit that I was so in awe of seeing the band and so busy with the camera that I didn't keep track of the track listing. Being a real Space Ritual virgin there were probably plenty of their own tracks in there that I am totally unfamiliar with (go ahead, stone me, I deserve it) but I did catch Time Crime and was that Sonic Savages in there?
We heard the old Hawk classics Master of the Universe, Brain Storm and a great rendering of Michael Moorcock's spine-chilling monologue Sonic Attack. We got a good couple of hours audio dope from these guys and I found myself grinning ear-to-ear most of the night. We ended on such a high with an aching face and ringing ears, but it was all good stuff.
The only hassle was the size and shape of the venue which found a serene couple and their teenage son bussled out of their front-row vantage by a crowd that seemed totally drunk and rowdy by the last few tracks. One all-elbows couple bullied my unsuspecting mate out of the front row and I had to eventually brace myself to the growing onslaught threating from behind my back - stopping myself from falling over onto a) a woman who was sat on the front of the very low stage taking photos b) some broken glass c) the light projectors d) a mass of audio cabling plus defending my space and my grand's worth of camera and lenses in my pocket.
Hopefully we'll see Nik and Space Ritual again very soon, maybe at a venue a little closer to home (West End Centre please *cough*). If not, Nik did tip us off to the possibility of a Hawkestra gig at the Roundhouse on 8th March, but that's not official, right? *wink*