Spacehog at The 100 Club
Spacehog have been away for a while – 15 years in fact – but you wouldn’t have guessed it from this tight, punchy showing at Oxford Street’s The 100 Club.
The 100 Club is a standard London cubbyhole basement: a sweat-box of jazz and rock memorabilia, glove box toilets and quirky patrons – a venue with character. That its entrance is surrounded by some of Oxford Street’s glitzy glazed-window shops makes for a bit of an odd juxtaposition. Still, it is where history placed it, and long may it remain.
For those unfamiliar with Spacehog, they’re soft-rock merchants from the 1990s, formed in New York but thoroughly English (lead singer Royston Langdon’s US accented singing voice aside). Power chords are the order of the day and the band don’t disappoint with an energetic opening trio of Beautiful Girl, I Want to Live and Mungo City that gets the temperature rising and the pores open. Patches begin to appear on the band’s matching jumpsuits, and while there is something gnawingly depressing about middle-aged men wearing matching jumpsuits, the gusto and thrust of this opening salvo is a sight to behold. Langdon’s voice is concrete solid and improves as he sings ever higher over Richard Steel’s churning chords. Even a temporary blackout and malfunctioning microphone can’t derail this diesel train.
The band’s evident pleasure at finding themselves on the UK stage again is palpable throughout, but the energy does dip in the middle of the set. Starside and a cover version of Queen’s In the Land of the Gods are perfectly pleasant, but lack the drive of the songs before. Momentum is only just restored before the finale through 1995’s jubilant Zeroes, and 2013’s Mumford and Sons-esque Deceit.
The band finish predictably with their biggest hit, In the Meantime. But this shouldn’t suggest that they’re predictable as a band – they change between record and live performance. While there is something affirmative about Spacehog songs, they gain a rockier, glam-grunge timbre when played live, lasting a good two minutes longer than you’d expect, and grinding away into a frenzy of drums with plummeting bass and Beatles-style guitar riffs on top.
It would be wrong to say that Spacehog’s songs are timeless, but there is a live steeliness that underpins their poppy records, giving their songs a modern relevance beyond mere 90s nostalgia. And if nothing else, they’re just a cracking live band.
Photos: Andrei Grosu
For further information and future events visit Spacehog’s website here.
Watch the video for In the Meantime here: