Spaceheads, featuring Andy Diagram of James on trumpet and Richard Harrison on drums, played their first post-pandemic gig at a sold-out Carlton Club in Whalley Range on Saturday.
The evening was opened by a lap steel set by Paddy Steer, long term associate of Spaceheads. The first half of his set was hypnotic even above the chatter from the bar area and well received by an already packed out venue. The second half saw him start to play with effects and create a weird mysterious world of sounds that you wouldn’t expect just by looking at the tools at his disposal. As he finishes there’s a guest slot of trumpet loops from Robyn’s Rocket who roams the room rather than remaining on stage.
The previously empty dancefloor has filled up by the time Andy and Richard come on stage and launch into Truth Decay which sets people dancing and most of them din’t stop for the next hour and a half as the potent combination of drums and effects-laden trumpet create beautiful rhythms and grooves that betray the modest instruments that birth them. That’s testament to the intuitive connection between Andy and Richard, on and off collaborators now for over three decades.
“This one was our closest to a hit single” Andy introduces What Does The Money Machine Eat? from last year’s Rust EP with visuals from Rucksack Cinema on the screen behind them before adding that it made him about fifty pence in royalties. Robbing The Memory Bank from that EP is one of the highlights, a sign that the duo’s creative juices are still very much flowing as new material fills up a large part of the set.
2017’s The Revolution Sashays Up The Mall takes us back in time a little as does the oft- shouted Sun Radar, the title track of their 2013 EP. Both Paddy and Robyn are invited on stage to join in at parts of the set, or in Robyn’s case on the floor as she joins Andy in walking through a crowd that parts in front of them. Mick Lynch of the RMT makes an appearance too, his speech about the poor needing to get wealthier and the wealthy needing to get poorer sampled and cut up on Simple Equation.
Roars for an encore are met as Sun Radar finishes and they leave the stage, as friends hug then join in one last dance led by Andy out among them again. Spaceheads might not fill the big venues but these intimate shows fill the hearts of the hundred and fifty in the room.