Space are set to unleash new album The Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab, Getintothis’ Luke Traynor relives a wasted youth with some Liverpool guitar-pop classics.
On April 1 2009, one rather twisted prankster gained temporary infamy by convincing the indie world that Tommy Scott – leader of Space – had unexpectedly died.
It was of course a hoax and a poorly observed one at that, with the singer’s poor mother hearing about her son’s so-called demise on the radio.
Given the newly-styled Scott which greets us on Friday night, it’s a definite reincarnation of sorts, with the once boyish features and tousled mid-shoulder length hair now replaced by a man who is rakish, high-quiffed and bespectacled with a rather snazzy shirt and braces. It requires more than one double-take to convince it’s one and the same man.
Space are casing the main joint once more, ahead of their fifth album release, The Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab.
It’s a title that shows the Scouse lads have lost none of the zany eccentricities which characterize their music, and in theatrical fashion we’re counted down to the start of the gig at 60-second intervals, with old-style cinema advertisements imploring us to purchase toffee popcorn from the reception.
Always advocates of the weird and kitsch, Scott hams up his performance with his trademark camp, quickly treating a packed fanbase to staple Spiders favourite – Mr. Psycho.
Space’s Tommy Scott meets his adoring public at East Village Arts Club, Liverpool
He’s lost none of his wide-eyed geek-chic, and the cartoon ska-rhythms hit the mark on Boy In A Body Bag, their unashamed ode to necrophilia, and the infectious Begin Again.
The band’s spiky twisted pop seep through another Spiders favourite Drop Dead, and indeed, there’s no denying the warm fuzzy glow with which these mid-90s tracks envelop the former Masque; an era when bands like Cast, Supergrass, Ocean Colour Scene and The Bluetones blissfully ruled the world.
The new 50ft Kebab tracks are solid enough, but are never going to set the world on fire.
Crying On The Webcam at least decently mimics The Specials’ 2 Tone sound, a genre which Scott, with all his kooky whimsy, pulls off impressively.
But it’s the old favourites which have lost none of their sparkle, with Female of the Species prompting a unified singalong and an outpouring of smooching from Scott with diehards Spacers on the front row.
You And Me Versus The World fairly stomps along and Scott pumps out the stellar lines “We hitched a ride that would turn out suicide I had my ’45 replica gun‘” with joyful abandon before a full assault on the horribly simple but nonetheless palatable Avenging Angels.
There’s a sense of fun on stage for this homecoming gig, with Scott hollering out to mates in the crowd, taking to his knees for overly-inflated guitar riffs, as John Waters-esque B-Movies form an offbeat visual backdrop.
Saving the best to last, Space spin their pop web for a brilliantly menacing Neighbourhood, a haunting beat-laden delight.
The encore serves up a surprising Ballad of Tom Jones with a confident female plucked from the front row after promising the band she “knows all the Cerys Matthews’ lyrics“.
“Nikki” reels of 80 per cent of the words, but manages to shout out “I’ve never thrown my knickers at you!” at the correct time, so everybody’s happy.
Smiling too is Scott, who seems determined to shake every hand in the crowd after finishing with an old, if somewhat weak finale, Drella’s ditty Violence Is Art.
As we leave, he’s still having a pint with his faithful in the pit at the front of the stage.
No, Scott and Space certainly aren’t dead. And they’re just as nutty as ever.
The Thespians at East Village Arts Club, Liverpool
Beforehand, Liverpool four-piece The Thespians, who are already winning eye-opening plaudits billing them as being our city’s answer to The Strokes.
They open the evening with a blast of bubblegum guitar pop akin to the strident positivity of Ash, with The Crash and The Summer best showcasing their brazen charismatic riffs.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Liz Phillips.
Further reading on Getintothis:
Liverpool’s gig calendar 2013: Guide to essential gigs not to miss the rest of this year
Getintothis on The Thespians live at the Kazimier.
James Skelly & The Intenders, The Sundowners, The Circles: O2 Academy, Liverpool
Manic Street Preachers, Public Service Broadcasting: The Ritz, Manchester