by / March 26th, 2012 /

Spiritualized – Dublin

Writing as one who has seen Spiritualized countless times over the years, this evening’s performance can be characterised as one of their more unusual gigs. For a start, it has been rescheduled from last October, first to last month, then to tonight, just as the release of new album Sweet Heart Sweet Light has been delayed for a month, from March 13th to April 13th. Therein, perhaps, lies the strangeness, as Jason Spaceman and co find themselves touring behind a collection that is not even available at the merch stand yet. Aside from pre-release public performances of some of the songs, available via The Guardian or our own Other Voices, most audience members will be unfamiliar with at least a third of the set. Damn it, review copies haven’t even arrived yet, a disorientating situation only compounded by the lack of contextualisation that is an inevitable consequence of Mr. Pierce’s customary lack of indulgence in between song stage patter.

The songs essayed from Sweet Heart Sweet Light are: lead single ‘Hey Jane’, ‘Headin’ For The Top Now’, ‘I Am What I Am’, ‘Mary’ and ‘So Long You Pretty Thing’. (I know this because I nabbed a setlist.) Folk/blues standard ‘Life Is A Problem’, long a live staple and now enshrined on the new record, is inexplicably and capriciously passed over.

However, it’s an alienation effect that is not noticeably unpleasurable, and may even be what any Spiritualized performance is ultimately striving for: cool distantiation coupled with the equal and opposite creation of a warm atmosphere of community and fellow-feeling, a kind of gospel meeting outpouring heightened by the slow layering of sound over repetitive riffs and rhythms, which simultaneously circumvents any trace of sentimentality. And the unfamiliar new material is not the only constituent of the overall oddness: the are outings for other songs which are rarely performed live, like Ladies and Gentlemen’s’ ‘Stay With Me’, Pure Phase’s ‘Born Never Asked’ and ‘Electric Mainline’, and Amazing Grace’s ‘Lord Let It Rain On Me’ and ‘Oh Baby’. These feature at the expense of jettisoning regular crowd-pleasers like ‘Walking With Jesus’, ‘Take Me To The Other Side’ or ‘I Think I’m In Love’. The encore consists of the risky instrumental ‘Electricity’, and the dreamy plod of Ladies and Gentlemen’s closer, the John Prine lyric-sampling ‘Cop Shoot Cop’.

This is not to suggest that there is a wilful disregard of audience expectations. The show kicks off with Ladies and Gentlemen’s title track, and still includes warhorses like ‘She Kissed Me, It Felt Like A Hit’, ‘Rated X’ and ‘Lay Back In The Sun’, and achieves a climax of sorts with ‘Come Together’. Other familiar features also remain intact. Jason still relinquishes the centre stage frontman spot in favour of lining up stage right, creating a void into which the audience can project itself. There is the habitual guitar interplay with Doggen, stage left, and the backing singers still add lush harmonies. Starting at 9pm with no support, it’s a solid two hours’ immersive experience. At least you can’t accuse them of always doing the same old thing.

PHOTO by Kieran Frost.

  • I’m not sure you were at the same gig I was. The show kicked off with Sweet Jane..not Ladies and Gentlemen’s title track as you say, and since when was Electricity ‘an instrumental’? And ‘Stay with me’ is on Lazer Guided Melodies. The most bizzare review I’ve read in a long time

  • Also almost certain that ‘she kissed me, it felt like a hit’ wasn’t played

  • Stay With Me is on Ladies and Gentlemen not Lazer Guided Melodies.

  • Storkboy

    Yeah my mistake. Morto now. But still confused about other elements of this review. Anyway was a good gig.

  • Storkboy

    Retreading this I guess the line ‘the show kicks off with’ may also be interpreted as when the show goes into another gear rather than the usual interpretation. So my apologies for calling that out if that was the author’s intention.

  • Bmak

    Thought it was a superb gig and it has reinvigorated my faith in Spiritualized.  The new stuff sounded great.  Cop Shoot Cop at the end was one of the best concert experiences I have had in many a year.  It was hypnotic…the sublinimal base pulsating like a beating heart was mesmerizing.   Im dont really get the reviewers take on it as being an ‘odd’ gig; it seemed to ebb and flow quite nicely.   I didnt care what song was coming next, it was all good.  The big disapointment for me was the overall volume in the venue, it was nowhere near loud enough.    There is nothing worse than a weedy sound no mater how clear the mix is.   Looking forward to the album now with renewed confidence.

  • LighttheSunrise

    If you’re gonna correct someone it’s best to get your own facts straight – In addition to your other error, the show started not with “Sweet Jane” but “Hey Jane”.

    Best sound I’ve heard at a gig in a long time (exceptionally clear – with the Bass playing being particularly impressive).

    Lavish and hypnotic while still being elemental and never lapsing into overindulgence when finishing with a slow 20 minute song would suggest the exact opposite. I still don’t know how J Spaceman does it!