All the gigs of my life: Gig 31 – Space, Wednesday, February 04, 1998, Shepherd’s Bush Empire

My first gig of 1998 should have actually taken place in 1997. If it had, I might actually have some memories of it.

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First off, an apology: If you’re a Space fan looking to relive early gig memories, I have almost nothing for you here. This gig took place during the worst depression of my life, and I wrote nothing about it in my diary. It’s pretty much a miracle that I actually made it to the gig, really.

I’d bought a ticket to the gig during happier times in 1997, inspired by seeing their hugely entertaining live set at the Reading festival that summer. And, as the ticket stub suggests, this gig should have happened at the end of November 1997 at the Brixton Academy, but for reasons lost to the mists of time, the gig was postponed and happened at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in February 1998.

What I do remember of the gig: I was down the front. There was almost no crush or mosh. There was a support band called Don, who I enjoyed. They had a single out called “How Free” which I bought. I thought they were the first band I’d heard who had a clear musical inspiration from Mansun, and so they interested me a lot. But I have no idea what happened to them, and Google is no help here (how many Dons in bands are there? Many. Add the words “How Free” and you get lots of articles about bands being asked to play for free.)

As for Space themselves, the only memory I can draw up is of the lead singer leaning out during one song and shaking hands with the front row, including me. I think I enjoyed them well enough, as well as I possibly could given that life was, at that moment, an exhausting, draining, pointless-seeming thing. And I give myself credit for actually getting up and going to Shepherd’s Bush that night. I’m sure I didn’t feel like doing so, and there were certainly times to come when low mood stopped me from going to a gig I’d planned to attend.

As for my nascent Space fandom, sparked by that Reading gig, it pretty much ended here. I’d bought their debut “Spiders” but had not been overly impressed by it, and after this gig I never paid that much attention to them again. In the run up to writing this entry I thought I’d give the album a fresh listen after all these years, but didn’t even make it all the way through. I guess me and Space were just never meant to be.

The good news is, by the time my next gig came around, I was in a much better place. Not completely out of the woods, but at last back into being inspired enough to ramble on at length in my diary about how fab the gig had been. So I can promise much more fun and exclamation marks in store for gig number 32.

 

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