“POWER MUSIC. ELECTRIC REVIVAL.”
Playing a selection of songs not heavy enough on the new material, Spiritualized came to Terminal 5 on Monday night behind their latest “Sweet Heart Sweet Light”. After a run of shows in the UK last year showcasing the 2012 LP in full, it was disappointing to see the band playing a career-spanning set when they would have won the mostly oblivious crowd over all the same focusing on their recent work. Personal quarrels with the setlist and lame crowd concerns aside, the band alternated between two sides: tight brit-pop ensemble and loose psych-rock outfit. All songs old and new, loud and quiet, towered in the hard-to-conquer Midtown West venue.
“Hey Jane”, the opening track on “Sweet Heart”, started the set off. Spiritualized in its five-piece plus two back-up singers formation played through their songs with guitar and keyboard noise filling in for the missing horns, strings, etc. excessive instrumentation that works on record but would seem inappropriate in this club setting. Allowing for these freak-out moments to takeover at the end of songs more often than not gave the set an added rush of energy. It also left for the back-up singers to fend for themselves as their once synchronized dance moves erupted into something resembling an out-of-body experience. Moments like these allowed the show to reach points of revival, or what I would imagine exaggerated salvation in the church is like.
Sending the disco ball a-spinnin’ came the title track to the group’s definitive record “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space”. It was odd seeing the entire space covered in reflected light from the mirror ball. Business types talking, heads hovered over phones texting, couples cuddling, all treating this show as social event as Jason Pierce and band played on. Often it was unclear who was less interested in the other, the crowd or the notoriously alienating Pierce. Acknowledging the audience but once at the very end, Pierce proves socialization is necessary in captivating an ADD-addled crowd. Those who were willing to give the show their full attention were ultimately rewarded by a complete statement of who Spiritualized both is, and has been.
“I Am What I Am” slammed forward mirroring the equal parts aggression and anguish of its twin “Cop Shoot Cop”, which itself stole the show in the encore. Both songs were co-written with Dr. John fifteen years apart from each other, and both capture that old Delta sound and lyrical content. It was surprising hearing songs so insanely similar both in the setlist, but they wound up serving as a nice complement, with “Cop Shoot Cop” coming as almost an extended reprise of the newer “I Am” at the tail of the set. “So Long You Pretty Thing”, formerly named “Poppy” after his daughter who shares a writing credit on the track, was another stand-out that showed off the vocal work of Pierce and the two female vocalists. The build is where Spiritualized excels, and they pulled this off even at Terminal 5 where layers of feedback often amount to a ball of noise tossed off to radiate in just one corner of the room. “So Long” saw the pinnacle of everything the band can do, soaking all the charm and catharsis possible out of Jason Pierce’s bitter misery. He has dragged this band through break-ups, battles with addiction, extended hospital stays with pneumonia, and now he’s got the art of each era to look back on and think, “man, I’ve been through some shit.”
Setlist for 05/07/12 at Terminal 5, New York, NY
- Hey Jane
- Lord Let It Rain On Me
- Headin’ for the Top Now
- She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit)
- Lay Back In The Sun
- Oh Baby
- Rated X
- I Am What I Am
- Born Never Asked
- Electric Mainline
- Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
- Stay With Me
- So Long You Pretty Thing
- Come Together
- Cop Shoot Cop