Alarm bells are ringing. A respected character from British music history has been given the budget and stage space to indulge a passion. Yep, in every pop band there is a Damon Albarn, desperate to elevate out of the pop sphere, to do something “serious”, something “worthy”.

Jerry Dammers is indeed a legend – the man from The Specials, the founder of 2 Tone Records, the guy who wrote the irresistible Ghost Town and Free Nelson Mandela. Now the Musical Director of the Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra, he’s on stage within the salubrious environs of The Bridgewater Hall rather than the WAG Club; these days it’s less about pork pie hats and more about cultivated goatees and the stroking thereof.

Dammers conducts a full orchestra with a horn section at front, percussion at the centre and guitars and bass at the back. At times he steps out from behind his bank of keyboards and seems to gaze in wonder at what he has created, hypnotised by the music, almost as if he’s forgotten to get tucked in himself.

Having said that, there’s some real energy within the interpretations of the selected tracks – some from Dammers own back catalogue, amongst oddments from classical composer Erik Satie and reggae artist Cedric “Im” Brookes. Most of the music however is focused on the pioneer of jazz and outer space, Sun Ra, the subject of a recent book by publishers Headpress. And, like Sun Ra, the whole thing is utterly, deliciously bonkers: aliens with guitars, mad visuals, hectic performance. Let’s face it – you can’t beat a bit of jazz xylophone, especially when it’s played by Tutankhamen. Even the roadies are in Ancient Egyptian Costume (I never did find out the Ancient Egyptian for “one… two… one two”). And then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any madder – a lady steps onto the stage and starts jungle scatting. It’s the sort of thing that would go down very well with Howard Moon from The Mighty Boosh.

When it’s built on a base of dub reggae I’m with it all the way, but at times the music is tangential, jagged, fractious and discordant, deliberately so. As such it’s not the end of the jazz sphere that my own goatee might usually feel at home. A kind of interplanetary space jazz jam, it is a little self-indulgent. But then again, maybe a man of Dammers stature deserves the space to role-play, the stage on which to indulge.

Simon is a writer, broadcaster and countercultural investigator. Over the last 15 years he has written for everyone from The Guardian to Loaded magazine, presented television for Rapture TV and hosted radio programs for the likes of Galaxy. He has also found time to earn a Masters Degree in Novel Writing and write three books (a collection of journalism, a guidebook to Ibiza and one on financial planning for young people – the most varied publishing career it’s possible to have) and establish and run a PR company, Pad Communications, looking after a range of leisure and lifestyle clients.He currently splits his time between researching his PhD at Leeds University, looking into various countercultural movements; consulting freelance for PR clients; writing for the likes of Marie Claire in Australia, The Big Issue and the Manchester Evening News, where he reviews concerts, theatre and is their Pub & Bar Editor. He is also broadcaster, appearing regularly on Tony Livesey’s late night 5Live show for the BBC, and also for BBC Radio Manchester Gourmet Night food and drink show.Simon’s main focus has been music and travel. His career has included editing Ministry of Sound’s magazine in Ibiza for two summers and also writing two long-running columns for DJmagazine – ”Around The World in 80 Clubs” (which took him everywhere from Beijing to Brazil, Moscow to Marrakech) and “Dispatches From The Wrong Side”. A collection of the latter was published in the UK and US as the book Discombobulated, including tales as varied as gatecrashing Kylie Minogue’s birthday party, getting deported from Russia, having a gun held to his head by celebrity gangster Dave Courtney and going raving in Ibiza with Judith Chalmers. He has recently written for the likes of Red magazine, Hotline, Clash, Tilllate, Shortlist and the Manchester Evening News. Pad Communications has recently consulted for clients as varied as Manchester nightclubs and New Zealand toy companies.On a personal note, Simon is a Londoner who left the capital at the age of 18 and never looked back. He sees himself as a citizen of the global dancefloor having lived in Sydney, Los Angeles, Ibiza and Amsterdam. However his life is now rather more sedentary. After all his adventures he bumped into and subsequently married his highschool sweetheart from their North London Grammar. They now live in Stockport with their four children and four chickens, trying to live the good life. Simon recently turned 40 and is steadfastly refusing to have a midlife crisis – as in, growing a ponytail and buying a shiny red sports car.OK, maybe he’ll buy the sports car…