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Space Ritual (live)

The Borderline
25 February 2011

“We are the survivors, the eternal survivors……”

This phrase may have crossed Nik Turner and the rest of his Space Ritual cohorts minds at some points over the years. But here they are still playing some of the best darn space rock this side of the Andromeda galaxy. Before I start reviewing the tracks played I must make a special mention about Terry Ollis, as the gods of rock’n’roll just don’t make drummers like that anymore. He uses the drum kit to its full potential and is sparing at the same time. He keeps the beat and adds dramatic fills that only drummers from a certain era knew how to do. It was fantastic to watch him and, yes, nowadays he does play fully clothed…..

Tonight there is no support band, just (over) two hours of Space Ritual to enjoy. The set starts with Nik doing some space ranting before “Watching the Grass Grow” kicks in and we are off soaring away towards the nearest nebula. This is a rousing opener with the set from there on in carrying on at the same breathless pace. Throughout the set there are a smattering of Robert Calvert penned songs, my particular favourite being a barnstorming version of “Ejection” that had the crowd moving and there was even a mosh pit at one point. (I used to be in a band in the 80’s called Vulcan Death Grip and we used cover this, and now I know how it should be done…).

During the performance a dancer would appear on stage in different costumes and move to the music, the only unfortunate thing about this was that the stage at the Borderline isn’t very big and with all the equipment on there it was very cramped, so she really couldn’t give her full performance properly. However she did manage to body surf the crowd at one point, which it looked liked cheered a lot of gentlemen up.

And the music still kept coming at you. Songs blistered from the amplifiers, “Reefer Madness” (a song I haven’t heard in a while) was fantastic. The title track from the new album Outland was a beautiful piece of spaced-out reggae with Nik’s flute blowing out into the cosmic void rather wonderfully. “D-Rider” was majestic and transported you right back to the heady days of early Hawkwind. Then at the end a crowded stage blasted out “Master of the Universe” to herald the last number of the show. The band were really tight throughout the entire performance and played with power and passion. Nik did have to tell a couple of jokes mid-set (don’t give up the day job pal); this helped the relaxed party atmosphere of the evening in this intimate venue. Space Ritual are certainly worth catching live if you want hear an evening of some of the best space rock songs ever written. And if you are looking for a cosmic musical experience what better place to be than at the edge of time.

-Gary Parsons-

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