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Reviews London - February 1998 - London StudentTim Milner
As you watch the late-60s, comeback Elvis, all white and sequinned, throwing his moves on the big screen at the back of the stage, you can’t help wondering how much he shares in common with the new Space. The new, dark Space; the Space with problems, the more musically adventurous Space. Except tonight they don’t show any of these.
Although, on first appearances, there are noticeable changes. As your eyes blur back into focus on the stage, you see singer Tommy Scott dressed in an all-black shirt-and-shiny-tie ensemble, his hair well-oiled and slicked back, a perfect look with which to tackle the plastic soul likes of ‘Dark Skies’ (which, thankfully, they leave out tonight), and one which suits him down to a shifty-salesman tee, looking every bit the aspiring lothario. Likewise guitarist Jamie, besuited and opening tonight on his own, with a little help from Fran the keyboard maestro, while the Space logo mutates wildly and melts beyond recognition on the screen behind him - a symbol for the ditching of the old and shuttling in of the new? Well, no, actually. Tonight they appear, albeit with new songs, just as they always were; chirpy, cheeky, kooky, spooky Scouse scallies with an ear for a catchy tune. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, its just that, with a new album due out, and a supposedly daring departure from their last album, ‘Spiders’, you expect more than a little techno intermission as Fran performs ‘In Sun’ solo.
The average age of the crowd, though, is mid-30s, men and women who, in the main, like to know what they’re going to get and like to stick at that; and one thing’s for sure, Space don’t leave anyone jipped for entertainment value. Tommy’s appearance on stage sends a ripple of excitement through the crowd, and his presence makes plenty of ground over anything that the music might lack in the way of originality. Which isn’t saying that the music isn’t original or exciting in itself, its just that the kooky, bleepy Space sounds do crop over a lot of the set. The hits don’t disappoint; ‘Neighbourhood’ sounds, and looks, better and more messed up than on record, as the stage goes red and a silhouetted Tommy stands aloft, messiah-like, on the keyboard riser; a souped-up, slowed-down ‘Female of the Species’ reminds you of the first, amazed glimpse you ever got of Space; final song of the night ‘You and Me Versus the World’, dedicated to Tommy’s daughter, is perfect; and, of course, the highlight of the night, ‘Avenging Angels’, is, er, kickass. All aided and abetted by Fran, enclosed in a vacuum of technology, as a one-man DJ, brass, and string section.
There are hints of the problems they’ve been through in the new songs - lyrical snippets such as “begin again, live again” in the one particularly depressing, bleak song they do, and Jamie pleading “I didn’t do it” in another, late-Manics-like, song, both untitled. But other than this there is little sign of strain. If anything, the new songs are positive looks at the situation, with choruses like “you won’t shake me, no one shakes me”, although Jamie does sigh resignedly as he announces, “This one’s called ‘The Luckiest Man in the World’. Indeed, before ‘No More Understanding’, Tommy jokes, “This one’s a cry for help from Jamie”, and there is a particularly downbeat, introspective opening before the song explodes into the full-on Spacerock we expect (“That’s not by us, that’s Cast”). ‘Disco Dolly’ is Space do Bis, with some added Wink-isms, and is also the last song before the extended encores.
Forthcoming single ‘Tom Jones’ is aired first, with a dramatic performance-duet between Tommy and Cerys from Catatonia, her all slinky dress and femme-fatale cool, him cowering, both in fine voice, rounded off by an ecstatic, grinning Tommy leaping around and punching the air, before telling her, “You know you have the best f**king voice ever!” and her responding with a snog and a declaration of love. And then they’re off…….and back again with some larking about from Jamie and a solo showcase from their new drummer, before kicking into a choppy, shouty, and excellent ‘Mr.Psycho’, which tonight strangely resembles ‘Brimful of Asha’.
It looks like happy days are here again - “We’re from Liverpool, means we’re not from England” laughs Jamie - as Space just do what they do, oblivious to fashion or what anyone thinks. Its not quite a case of ‘if anyone else likes it, its a bonus’, though, as how can anyone help but like this? Not startling or shocking, but definitely solid, Space are the jesters back in The King’s court.
Original article available here
Source: London Student