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.
I often say that Pete Bentham makes a great spokesman for the Widnes music scene I was proud to be a part of, and my love of Halfway to Eddies extended to a Soundcloud page I made in their name, utilising my mass of cassette tapes that feature them from back then. For a great example of how informed Pete is, and how funny they were, look no further than this Radio City interview with Pete and Baz from the early nineties, just as their one and only LP was about to be released;
I recall Space becoming active as I’d jumped the Atlantic to the USA. I heard their stuff through radio tapes my mum would make and also from cover-mounted CDs on magazines. I thought they were aright, and a somewhat cynical antidote to all of that flag-waving that existed back then. I don’t have any records by them though, but I’ve got that Eddies’ one and treasure it. I have a couple of Pete Bentham’s Dinner Ladies CDs too and they’re great fun.
Cheers for letting me be self-indulgent, mate.