Spacemen 3 were an English rock band who formed in 1982 and whose career spanned from the post-punk to acid house eras. This highly influential group’s minimal sound, characterised by droning guitars, softly sung/spoken vocals and sparse or monolithic drumming would be adopted by the shoegazing movement that would eventually dominate the underground. Their sound also formed the basis for post-rock. Spacemen 3 consisted of the core of Jason Pierce and Peter Kember (Pierce sometimes credited as J. Spaceman and Kember usually known as Sonic Boom), who formed the group in Rugby, Warwickshire, having met at art college. Other members of what would become a fluid lineup over the years included Pete Bain (Bassman, also of the Darkside), Natty Brooker, Sterling Roswell (Rosco), Will Carruthers and Jonny Mattock (also of Slipstream).
From the outset Spacemen 3 had a very defined set of aesthetic principles. They based almost their entire sound on their own concept of minimalism—droning guitars, feedback, as few chords as possible, pounding drums—with their motto “Taking drugs to make music to take drugs to”. Their minimalism bled into their stage show as well. Sitting down to play their guitars and covered in the spinning colours of a cheap psychedelic light show, their stage “act” was very anti-performance. Another striking aspect of Spacemen 3 was their willingness to share their influences. Song titles, lyrics and interviews were peppered with references to bands and artists they believed shared their “minimal is maximal” aesthetic. The Velvet Underground, the Rolling Stones, the Stooges, the MC5, early Captain Beefheart, out-there jazz legend Sun Ra, the Silver Apples, garage punk of the 1960s such as the 13th Floor Elevators, Red Krayola, and the Electric Prunes; the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean and other surf bands; ’80s rockabilly groups the Cramps, the Gun Club, Tav Falco; blues and gospel acts like Muddy Waters, the Staple Singers and John Lee Hooker; and the production techniques of Joe Meek, Brian Wilson and Delia Derbyshire were just some of the names mentioned by the band.
Performance is the first live album from Spacemen 3, documenting a set from the Perfect Prescription tour. It was recorded on February 6, 1988 at De Melkweg, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Containing titles: Mary-Anne, Come together, Things'll never be the same, Take me to the other side, Rollercoaster, Starship, Walkin' with jesus.