All women line up for Ivor Novello Awards for first time ever
All women line up for Ivor Novello Awards for first time ever

Louder Than War tripper than Spiritualized
Louder Than War tripper than Spiritualized

Spiritualized

Manchester Academy 

March 26th 2012



”‹The first day of summer was ushered in on a glorious Sunday but in my efforts to bask in its glory I forgot the clocks had gone forward by an hour.When I realised, I legged it to the bus stop only to crawl down Oxford Road cursing the name of William Willet. I arrived at the gig and found out that I’d missed ”˜Hey Jane’ and ”˜Lord let it rain on me’. But, by the time ”˜She kissed me (and it felt like a hit) had finished, any disappointment I felt before had vanished into the ether.


”˜Lay back in the Sun (good dope, good fun) is the original feel good hit of the Summer and brought a smile to the glowing crowd no doubt topping off a rare lazy Sunday spent drinking in back gardens or in overpriced smoking areas of pubs. In the dankness of the Academy it felt like the Sun was at its highest.



After this baptism of sound they changed hymn sheets to play ”˜Oh Baby’from 2003’s Amazing Grace. The song begins like one of Nick Cave‘s mournfully gentle, piano led compositions but ends up sounding like ”˜Turn Blue’ by Iggy Pop when the backing singers lift Jason Pierce‘s wilting pleas skyward. Pierce’s career trajectory is not too dissimilar to that of Nick Cave as the two shared abrasive, influential bands at the start of their oeuvre in the form of the Birthday Party and Spacemen 3 before gradually branching out into orchestration and dare I say it – ballads. That isn’t to say that Spiritualized haven’t mixed it up throughout each of their six albums but they are sometimes dismissed in their quietest moments by ardent fans of their sonically fraught earlier work. Regardless, the set comprises a well balanced mixture of old and new, heavy highs and crippling lows and its fucking exquisite.


Rated X is made for a Sunday morning when reality seeps into the booze clogged pores of the night before. It is soothing musically and like a lot of the music of 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 clichés, it doesn’t feel pastiche and is sometimes inconsequential to the spirit of the song and the brilliance of the music anyway. There are of course many beautiful exceptions when the fragility of Pierce’s mindset breaks through and the words to Rated X are as tender as any he 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 by his guitarist, keyboardist and drummer as well as two backing vocalists who add warmth to his delivery on the Gospel numbers before sharing centre stage on ”˜Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space’. They handle the theme of Pachelbel’s Canon whilst Pierce sings ”˜Can’t help falling in love how I’d imagine Elvis would sound if he rose from the dead and raided a pharmacy.


Mid way through the set an instrumental is performed that rewires my brain almost to the point where I start believing that I’ve been locked inside a mental prison sub contracted by Hawkwind 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 ”˜Mary’ and ”˜So long you pretty things’  get an airing proving that ”˜Sweet light, sweet heat’ will be worth the wait when it’s released. After being lulled into a false sense of security with calmer tracks the light show goes into epilepsy inducer mode as ”˜Come together’, the sequel to ”˜Just say no’ by the Grange Hill cast, is unleashed before the encore.


A high voltage ”˜Electricity’ and an extended version to the extended version of ”˜Cop shoot Cop’ ends the night and Spiritualized return the applause to a crowd more than grateful that they didn’t finish the weekend with depressing television before the reality of Monday. This is what Songs of Praise should sound like.

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