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London W1 Improv Theatre

If nothing else, [B]Space[/B] are to be lauded for their complete irreverence, their slap-happy willingness to stick their toes into any available mud puddle...

Just who do SPACE think they are? Tonight, as they career from football-obsessed Scouse chancers to stiffly dancing electroboffins to suave troubadours, only one thing's clear. They've no bleeding idea.



Space have long eluded categorisation by virtue of the schizophrenic bent of their output, and they make no attempt to smudge stark delineation lines as they reel through the hits. Consider the difference between the orchestral, Sensitive Space, responsible for sweeping ballads like 'Bad Days', and the Techno-rock Space who unleash the frayed '80s synth-pop of 'Disco Dolly' or the Eurotrash dance-beat wig-outs of 'The Man' with equal - smirking - grace. Space are gliding across musical genres, skimming off whatever takes their fancy.



Swanky Space attempt to emulate rat-pack cocktail-lounge crooners, although a sweatshirt and jeans-clad TOMMY SCOTT can in no way rival an elegantly besuited FRANK SINATRA, and numbers like 'The Unluckiest Man In The World' resonate less with the effervescence of champagne than they do with the wheaty pong of stale lager. Especially as this evening's performance is interrupted more than once while the band disappear to check the football scores.



Then, of course, there's Space in karaoke mode, conjuring up the spectre of CERYS on video screens for 'The Ballad Of Tom Jones'. However, since the whole point of the song is a tjte-`-tjte between sparring partners, the impact of which relies upon the physical and musical tension, this seems a feeble effort. As does the grating faux-rap of 'Be There' and the cheesy cabaret of 'A Liddle Biddy Help From Elvis', which is like LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS with extra 'shoowaddy shoo-wops'.



Space are at their best when they return to the tongue-in-cheek good humour and wilful quirkiness of their first album - the MADNESS-style camaraderie of 'You And Me Vs The World', the twisted Sesame Street vibe of 'Neighbourhood'. And, of course, their finest moment remains the pulp horror and soundtrack kitsch of 'Female Of The Species' which revels, tunefully, in its own ridiculousness.



If nothing else, Space are to be lauded for their complete irreverence, their slap-happy willingness to stick their toes into any available mud puddle. Blame it on personality crisis, on musical Attention Deficit Disorder, on diabolical hyperactivity - whatever. With Space, you get five bands in one. Annoying, certainly, but never boring. If it's value-for-money you're after, the buck stops here.

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