Saturday, March 31, 2012

Review: Spiritualized - Vicar St. Dublin

Slowly emerging from a hail of 'wha wha' feedback a beautifully bleak pulsating wall of sound peppered by strobe lighting and psychedelic visuals 'Hey Jane' lead single from forthcoming album Sweet Heart, Sweet Light commenced an evening of electro space jazz with Jason Pierce at the helm Hey Jane is a three-part Shoegaze epic clocking in at over 10 minutes. Part 1, is a Jesus and Marychain meets Sonic Youth stomper  In Part 2, a roadhouse blues bass line morphs into a blissed out psychedelic sound scape. where ephemeral backing vocals hook the listener in, as the music below becomes a droning mush of white noise. Part 3, bares a passing resemblance to 'Tender' by Blur. as the "Sweetheart..."  gospel vocals punch their way through the ever-increasing hail of white noise below.

Peirce acts as an omnipotent figure on stage.  Part classical conductor, part reluctant front man. It is clear from the off that Pierce, has no interest in giving a performance outside the realms of musicality.  There would be no jokes, no sidebars, no movement, just music. Any razzmatazz would be supplied via vivid psychedelic charcoal visuals, that simultaneously pulled you in and pushed you back. This would not be a conventional rock show, but then again why should it? Spiritualized will never be a conventional rock group. The traditional support act had been dispensed with in favour of 2 hour + performance, delivered with barely a pause between songs.

The evening flowed with a gentle relentlessness, through new and old material lovingly recreated, extended, and embellished upon by the current Spiritualized lineup of virtuoso musicians. Songs such as 'Oh Baby' and the Velvet-Iggy groove of 'She Kissed Me' stood out for their raw energy and emotion. But the crowd couldn't hide their excitement for material from 1997's seminal Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. The title track from that album was predictably well received, with backing vocals from two gospel Mamma's warranting special mention, for their Segway into "wise men say only fools rush in... " which delighted the crowd.

Despite the universal moments of unity such as the wonderful 'Come Together', and 'Electricity', Spiritualized, live, are not suitable for newcomers or casual listeners. Their live show is for the purists, who live for every drone and overtone as Pierce does. Anyone who expected to dance will have been disappointed, as the atmosphere in Vicar St. was one of quiet appreciation. Spiritualized unlike most bands, challenge the gig-goer to really listen to the music they are playing, and this can hardly be a bad thing. But the results will either leave the listener baffled and bewildered or mesmerised with little space between.

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