O2 Academy, Oxford
9th March 2013
Space are usually lumped in with other Britpop bands of the mid-to-late 90s in the national memory, but they fitted the “pop” – in the genre sense – much better than Suede or Oasis. The “Brit” part also deftly characterised the Liverpudlians; lots of the bands of the time were quite austere, but Space gave a somewhat wry side glance at life.
They actually hung on until 2005, with dwindling success, but like so many of their contemporaries, they (Tommy Scott and Franny Griffiths from the original lineup) recently reformed. Understandably, tonight they concentrate on their first two albums and the most recent, as if their other two – the delayed and eventually unreleased Edwyn Collins production Love You More Than Football and the 2004 relative flop that preceded their split, Suburban Rock ‘n’ Roll – never existed.
From the old stuff, for every Avenging Angels and Neighbourhood there is a Charlie M and Mister Psycho – juxtaposing the macabre with the mundane, and making light of it. The 50s jangly spookiness, organs, rockabilly and mariachi stylings are still present in the newer stuff, but it’s even darker, if anything: Crying on the Webcam is just creepy, She’s in Love With a Boy in a Body Bag apparently combines Sergio Leone with necrophilia, and the frantic, Madness-esque album title track, Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab, definitely has an air of “sod it, let’s do what we want” about it. Burn Down the School continues the extraordinary-things-happening-to-everyday-people theme of their biggest hit Me and You vs the World, which has a ska-punk makeover tonight.
They finish with a medley of Dark Clouds and La Bamba – a natural segue – and stalker tale Drop Dead, “One for the fans,” Tommy explains. And with that, he jumps into the grateful crowd, revelling in their long-standing appreciation.