March 26th 2012
”â¹The first day ofÃÂ summerÃÂ wasÃÂ ushered inÃÂ on aÃÂ glorious SundayÃÂ butÃÂ in my efforts to bask in its glory I forgot the clocks had gone forwardÃÂ byÃÂ an hour.When I realised,ÃÂ IÃÂ legged it to the bus stopÃÂ only toÃÂ crawlÃÂ down Oxford Road cursingÃÂ the name of William Willet.ÃÂ IÃÂ arrivedÃÂ at the gig andÃÂ found outÃÂ that I’d missed ”ËHey Jane’ÃÂ andÃÂ ”ËLordÃÂ letÃÂ it rain on me’.ÃÂ But, byÃÂ the timeÃÂ ”ËShe kissed me (and it felt like a hit)ÃÂ had finished,ÃÂ anyÃÂ disappointmentÃÂ I feltÃÂ before had vanishedÃÂ into the ether.
”ËLay back in the Sun (good dope, good fun)ÃÂ is the original feel good hit of the Summer andÃÂ brought a smile to theÃÂ glowingÃÂ crowdÃÂ no doubt topping off a rareÃÂ lazy SundayÃÂ spent drinking in back gardensÃÂ or in overpricedÃÂ smoking areas of pubs. In the dankness of the Academy it felt like the Sun was at its highest.
After this baptism ofÃÂ sound they changed hymn sheets toÃÂ play ”ËOh Baby’from 2003’sÃÂ Amazing Grace. The song beginsÃÂ likeÃÂ one ofÃÂ Nick Cave‘sÃÂ mournfully gentle, piano ledÃÂ compositionsÃÂ butÃÂ ends up sounding like ”ËTurn Blue’ÃÂ byÃÂ IggyÃÂ PopÃÂ when the backing singers liftÃÂ Jason Pierce‘s wilting pleas skyward.ÃÂ Pierce’s career trajectory is not too dissimilar to that of Nick Cave as the two sharedÃÂ abrasive,ÃÂ influential bands at the start of their oeuvre in theÃÂ form of theÃÂ Birthday Party and Spacemen 3 before graduallyÃÂ branching out into orchestration and dare I say it – ballads.ÃÂ That isn’t to say thatÃÂ Spiritualized haven’t mixed it up throughoutÃÂ each of their six albumsÃÂ but theyÃÂ are sometimes dismissed in their quietest moments by ardent fans of their sonically fraught earlier work. Regardless,ÃÂ the set comprises a well balanced mixture of old and new,ÃÂ heavyÃÂ highs and crippling lowsÃÂ and its fucking exquisite.
Rated XÃÂ is made for a Sunday morning when reality seeps into the booze clogged poresÃÂ ofÃÂ the night before.ÃÂ It is soothingÃÂ musically andÃÂ like a lot ofÃÂ the music ofÃÂ Spiritualized, it is simple but couldn’t be as effective without some soul and spirit ever present. Although Jason Pierce sometimes deviates into rock and roll lyrical clichÃÂ©s,ÃÂ it doesn’t feelÃÂ pastiche and isÃÂ sometimesÃÂ inconsequential to theÃÂ spirit of theÃÂ songÃÂ and the brilliance of the musicÃÂ anyway. There areÃÂ of course many beautiful exceptionsÃÂ when the fragility ofÃÂ Pierce’s mindsetÃÂ breaks through and theÃÂ wordsÃÂ toÃÂ Rated XÃÂ areÃÂ as tender as anyÃÂ heÃÂ has revealed;
Regret creeps up on you
So put your hand in my hand
And baby, we’ll forget that life had even started
Before our hands met
Pierce is flanked byÃÂ hisÃÂ guitarist, keyboardist and drummer as well asÃÂ two backing vocalists who add warmth toÃÂ hisÃÂ deliveryÃÂ on the Gospel numbers before sharing centre stage on ”ËLadies and gentlemen we are floating in space’.ÃÂ They handle theÃÂ theme ofÃÂ Pachelbel’sÃÂ Canon whilst Pierce sings ”ËCan’t help falling in love‘ÃÂ how I’d imagine Elvis wouldÃÂ soundÃÂ ifÃÂ he rose from the dead and raided a pharmacy.
Mid way through the set an instrumental is performedÃÂ that rewires my brain almost to the point where I startÃÂ believingÃÂ that I’ve been locked inside a mental prison sub contracted byÃÂ HawkwindÃÂ with Julian Cope as the Warden.Luckily, the threat of a flashback recedes into the safety of my sub conscious ready to consume my sanity the next time I see a strobe light on X Factor.
New songs ”ËMary’ÃÂ andÃÂ ”ËSo long you pretty things’ ÃÂ getÃÂ an airing proving thatÃÂ ”ËSweet light, sweet heat’ÃÂ will be worth the wait when it’s released.ÃÂ After being lulled into a false sense of security withÃÂ calmerÃÂ tracks the light show goes into epilepsy inducer modeÃÂ asÃÂ ”ËCome together’,ÃÂ the sequel toÃÂ ”ËJust say no’ÃÂ by the Grange Hill cast,ÃÂ is unleashed before the encore.
AÃÂ high voltageÃÂ ”ËElectricity’ÃÂ and an extended version to the extended version ofÃÂ ”ËCop shoot Cop’ÃÂ ends the night and Spiritualized return the applause to a crowd more than grateful that they didn’t finishÃÂ the weekend with depressing television before the reality of Monday.ÃÂ This is whatÃÂ Songs of Praise shouldÃÂ soundÃÂ like.