Live Review

Spiritualized, Queens Hall, Edinburgh

Jason the Baptist has blessed us and we’re ready for anything.

Having promised new songs and a new bass player on their more-curt-than-it-needs-to-be official Twitter feed (@officialspzd), Spiritualized appear on stage in Edinburgh with no support and very little fanfare. No matter, ‘Hey Jane’ sparks an immediate positive reaction. Second new song of the night, ‘Little Girl’, has a ‘White Album’ feel – vaguely eastern, vaguely psychedelic but definitely and definitively Spiritualized. Anyone who knows this band’s work knows what to expect; there is, what can only politely be described as, “dependability” in their sound.

Tonight Jason Pierce leads a four man band, with two ever present backing singers (in matching outfits, natch) and is himself positioned on a stool to the side of the stage. The Stones, some ‘60s psych and revivalist gospel all play a part in the Spiritualized sound-scape. There’s also an edge of mid period Pink Floyd detectable in the girls’ harmonies on a few of these new numbers. With titles like ‘You Get What You Deserve’ and ‘I Am What I Am’, Pierce seems even more fatalistic than he was on 2008’s post-near death experience ‘Songs In A & E’. The comparative sparseness of that record appears to have cleared the decks.

At the risk of starting a metaphor I can’t finish, a good Spiritualized gig is like a good seeing to: God is invoked; you don’t tire easily despite the degree of familiarity to proceedings; no one has to ask any questions; the repetitions and tensions are all in exactly the right places, and it’s better when you’re suitably intoxicated.

Just when you think you’ve had enough, they give you a little bit more and it’s all the sweeter for making you wait for it. This band’s best work hovers on the cusp of regret and teeters into ecstasy. Some of the fans are extra vocal tonight, perhaps restless because they can’t yet sing along to the new material.

“Freedom is yours if you want it,” sings Pierce and it sounds like the day-seizing sentiment of a survivor. Spiritualized songs are, lyrically at least, constructed from a limited palette of themes: Sex and Death; Drugs; Religion or the lack of it; Fear or the lack of it, and more drugs. Musically, however, they are a lesson in control; stylised, hypnotic, and thoroughly consistent. Most of this set is made up of songs not heard before, but there is no doubt that Pierce has not yet drained his own particular well of creative inspiration.

‘Won’t Get To Heaven’ finally breaks into their back catalogue with a particularly characteristic paradox: a negative gospel song. Having tantalised the room by resolutely playing new material, after an hour and a half everyone is on tenterhooks to hear a song that will provide some release.

Some questions are destined to remain unanswered: Is there a God? Will he welcome any of us sinners into paradise? Are those sunglasses Jason Pierce wears on stage actually prescription? With this band though, there are some central tenets of the faith: You are essentially insignificant; You will die, but you’d better have a bloody good go at making your life matter before you do; You still have to burn as brightly as you can; You still need to have soul worth saving.

‘Shine A Light’, the most recognisable older song of the evening is, when it finally comes in the encore, a genuine emotional watershed received with ardent fervour.

The redeeming noise of ‘Take Me To The Other Side’ provides a prolonged build up to the closing ‘Oh Happy Day’ which provides a final draining farewell, leaving ladies checking that their mascara is still waterproof and gentlemen with “something in their eye”. Jason the Baptist has blessed us and we’re ready for anything.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

April 2024

With Bob Vylan, St Vincent, girl in red, Lizzy McAlpine and more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY