These days it’s not often I get the chance to add a new type of venue to my gig-going list. Over the years I’ve seen bands pretty much everywhere and anywhere.
Fields, tents, halls, clubs, pubs, theatres and now a table tennis regional centre of excellence.
It doesn’t have the same ring to it as Live from Carnegie Hall or Live at Budokan, but Liverpool’s 90s hitmakers Space made the best of what was essentially just a big sports hall under a stand at the home of Widnes Vikings.
Maybe they just wanted to say they were doing a stadium tour.
Not that Space were the only reason for going. Support was provided by the estimable Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies – the only avant-garde punk n roll band with backing dancers in existence.
Now I have to declare something of an interest in having known Pete for a very long time and in several musical incarnations, not least the brilliant Halfway to Eddies and Out 77.
His latest band are a stalwart of the Liverpool scene, a regular at Blackpool’s Rebellion punk festival, and feature songs in their set that reference conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp, the Russian space programme and Liverpool’s Concert Square.
They are funny, clever, invigorating and always worth every penny of whatever admission they are charging on the night.
Space followed and were as mildly frustrating as I’d found their heyday to be – and for exactly the same reason. Unsurprising really.
They have got some decent tunes and enjoyed a brief run of chart success in the post-Britpop era but I always thought they tried to be a bit too clever when the basis of the songs always stood up well and didn’t need too much embellishment.
With front man Tommy Scott happy to engage with the audience and making several mid-song excursions into the crowd there was a buoyant atmosphere throughout and when they did call it a night they did so before outstaying their warm welcome.
Hit singles Female of the Species, Avenging Angels, Neighbourhood and my favourite from back in the day, Me and You Versus the World, were all duly aired but the highlight was the Spiders album track, Drop Dead, which thundered along with a big rolling groove that Primal Scream might have been happy to call their own.