Monthly Archives: March 2013

Review: Space @ Factory251 16.03.13

© Space

© Space

Back in the late 90s, Space were a rarity – a band that actually sounded unique. Surrounded by Britpop hopefuls and alt-rock guitar crunchers, their fantastical blend of jangly guitars, electronica-infused beats, movie dialogue samples and tongue in cheek, blackly comedic lyrics formed what became perhaps the most quintessentially British back catalogue since The Kinks at their prime.

They were a breath of fresh air, and briefly had enormous chart success, until record label tangles saw their third album shelved (it remains unreleased), and their fourth sink without a trace. It was an ignoble demise, and after a reunion gig in 2011 featuring three of the original members, the band began work on their forthcoming album, ‘Attack Of The Mutant 50ft Kebab’. Well, quite.

Now that trio is down to two – frontman Tommy Scott, and keyboard wizard Franny Griffiths – but the new iteration of Space are a powerful beast that, dare I say it, knock the spots off their previous incarnations. Joined by second keyboard player Ryan Clarke, double-bass wielding Phil Hartley and drummer Allan Jones, the new members own influences are worn on their sleeves – this is a heavier, bouncier Space than 90s survivors may remember.

The oddball indie-pop survives, but is fused with psychobilly and experimental grooves, with the majority of the old tracks played tonight being reworked from the ground up. The band are on top form throughout, clearly loving the riotous reception the packed out audience at this intimate venue provides, and determined to give it their all. Scott and Clarke cannot stop bouncing for more than two minutes, Hartley darts about the stage, and if Franny and Allan don’t wake up with sore necks from all the nodding, they must be made from rubber.

With old fan favourites like ‘Charlie M’ and ‘A Little Biddy Help From Elvis’ rubbing shoulders with the likes of ‘Avenging Angels’, ‘The Ballad Of Tom Jones’ (complete with the disembodied voice of Cerys Matthews, just as it should be), ‘Neighbourhood’, ‘Female Of The Species’ and the stonking, ska-toned reworking of ‘Me And You Versus The World’, it’d be easy to miss the new songs on offering – yet every single one of them gets the same enamoured response from the assembled crowd. New single ‘Fortune Teller’ is a highlight, as is the album’s ridiculous title track and rocker ‘Burn Down The School’ – songs that continue that old Space love of pop culture references, but take the music somewhere new.

As the show ends, and Tommy Scott runs off stage and straight into the crowd, it’s a bit of a surprise that such a strong live band has emerged from the ashes of one who, by many accounts, were always much better in the studio than they were on stage. The show never lulled, never languished in a clump of new songs or old hits, and the band were laughing and joking with the crowd and each other throughout.

At their peak, Space were playing massive festivals, appearing on film soundtracks and car adverts and duetting with Tom Jones. The next large crowd they play will be at the punk-themed Rebellion Festival in Blackpool. Judging by this show, and the previews of their forthcoming album, they may just become the highlight of the weekend. They may never scale such commercial heights again, but on the strength of tonight, they’ve never been better.


01. Charlie M
02. Mister Psycho
03. She’s in Love With a Boy in a Body Bag
04. Money
05. Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab
06. Avenging Angels
07. Crying on the Webcam
08. A Liddle Biddy Help From Elvis
09. Begin Again
10 .Fortune Teller
11. The Ballad of Tom Jones
12. Happy Clowns
13. Burn Down the School
14. Female of the Species
15. Armageddon
16. Neighbourhood
17. Me & You Vs The World

18. Dark Clouds/La Bamba
19. Drop Dead


Review: Planes @ The Deaf Institute 09.03.13

© Planes

© Planes

When drummers in successful bands take a sabbatical to form their own group, they can often seem lost away from their stools, unsuited to handling a guitar and holding the crowd in the palm of their hands. Fortunately, Planes are different. For starters, Placebo’s current stickman Steve Forrest isn’t taking a break from his drumming duties: he’s currently juggling the recording of their forthcoming seventh studio album with the crafting of Planes’ full length debut, along with this mini tour of the UK.

What’s more, whilst Planes initial buzz came with the welcomed baggage of Forrest’s more celebrated role – their debut live show was supporting Placebo in front of 60,000 fans – they each act and sound nothing like the other. The increasingly extravagant, arena-dwelling alternate rock legends are now enhanced to a six-piece live in order to accommodate the transition of their string-laden soundscape from studio to stage. Yet as grandiose as Placebo become with each passing tour, even their most diehard followers would have to admit that the laid back Planes are just so much more fun.

Forrest and his cohorts: guitarist Ted Brunning, bassist Dan Sayer, keyboard player and violinist Char O’Lette and drummer Eddie Harris; are note perfect during their ten song set at Manchester’s most intimate music venue, The Deaf Institute. Snake-hipped Steve hops and skips about the small stage whenever a particular groove takes control, and laughs and jokes with the assembled crowd. It’s clear he takes a lot of pleasure from the performance, but that pleasure is never derived from an egotistical desire to be up front and the centre of attention – instead, he is just having a whale of a time, jamming with his friends.

© Paul Holmes

© Paul Holmes

Those jams are mostly taken from the band’s forthcoming debut album – a world away from the relaxed sway of their self-titled EP release of last year. Only one song from the latter, ‘Grinding Teeth’, gets an airing tonight, with the rest of the set bravely featuring songs the majority of the crowd are unfamiliar with, yet still greet with a thunderous reception. The new material is a powerful blend of alt-rock stomp, classic rock grooves and country style, moonshine twang. It’s almost as if Kasabian were infiltrated by Hank Williams III, and they all decided they wanted to sound like 70s rock gods instead.

Highlights included forthcoming single ‘Set It On’ and the glorious ‘Holes In My Shoes’, which instantly felt like the best song you’ll hear all year. Performed by a mainstream act, these songs would be all over every radio station already, and whilst the band leave without an encore, their willingness to be out front before their set to see indie-dance pop support band Silverclub, and afterwards to talk to fans and admirers should be applauded. And besides, their short and sweet set left their audience wanting more, and perhaps that’s exactly how they want us…



Colour Green
Summer Breeze
It’s Too Late
Set It On
Grinding Teeth
Wait It Out

Review: Dan Michaelson & The Coastguards – Sheets


Dan Michaelson & The Coastguards - Sheets - “Come on round, you know I’ll let you in,” drawls Dan Michaelson – his raw vocal delivery crossing the mid-point between his Northampton origins and his time spent in Texas to record his 2011 solo album, Sudden Fiction.

Michaelson has toured with the likes of Phosphorescent and I Am Kloot, and much like the latter’s John Bramwell, he wears his metaphorical heart on his hypothetically alcohol soaked sleeve, with delicate, subdued results.

His is a gentle yet throaty plea, always one step away from cracking into whisky-induced nothingness, which contrasts beautifully with the beautifully sparse accompaniment by his Bad Seeds esque Coastguards.

Now onto their third full length record, ‘Blindspot’, the band – which also features Henry Spenner, Laurie Earle, Sanja Mitra and the gloriously named Horse – have shifted a world away from the up-tempo, indie-dirge sound of Michaelson’s previous project, Absentee.

As with Nick Cave’s recent soundtrack work, the sound here is forlorn, the lyrics are heartfelt, and the song builds gently to a crescendo, before quietly receding and returning to its origins, never outstaying its welcome.

Sheets is released on 11th March, with the album Blindspot following on 25th March.