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Record Collector Reviews 2007

Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 20 June 2007

The Stooges have filled out the Royal Festival Hall but the golden ticket tonight is Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra, the Specials and Special AKA leader’s tribute to Sun Ra. Part of Jarvis Cocker’s Meltdown, Jerry’s 19 person theatre is in many ways his own take on the festival. As he says, “most of my heroes are dead,” so reinterpretation is one of the few ways open for him to honour them. Over two hours he does just that. He interweaves transcendental pieces by Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane, delivers a haunting dub jazz take on his own Ghost Town, draws on Dizzy Reece’s re-imagining of the Theme From The Exorcist, pulls off a remarkably sublime Space Is The Place, a powerful Nuclear War featuring rapper Anthony Joseph and combines the Soul Vendors’ reggae classic Ringo Rock with Love On A Far Away Planet. It’s not just through the hypnotic cosmic funk that the spirit of Sun Ra is conjured but the medium of stage costumes and props too. Decked in Egyptian robes and gold death masks, accompanied by sarcophagi, the Orchestra transfix and as they leave the stage to continue their playing outside, the congregation follow mesmerised as by the pied piper.

While the Stooges, Sun Ra fans themselves, are content to plunder their back catalogue and punt a heavy metal LP, Jerry like the space jazz maverick before him, is moving forward. Welcome the new thing!

Lois Wilson