Back in the late 80’s I went to see Spaceman 3 and I’ve been watching Jason Pierce (aka Jason Spaceman) and Spiritualized, the band he formed after the demise of Spacemen 3, ever since. About 5 years ago I saw one of my best gigs of all time when Pierce played a stripped down acoustic set at the City Varieties with just 3 gospel singers, 3 people on strings and a pianist to accompany him. It was also one of the few times when I’ve seen him actually be centre stage as he usually plants himself off to the side when he plays live. Tonight the centre of the stage was even more empty than usual as the backing singings and musicians formed a semi circle to the back and edges of the stage with Jason sitting off to the left of the stage. Don’t let the sitting down and the music stand fool you though into thinking that he was not going to unleash the full force that the band is capable of as it was clear from the opening number Hey Jane that moved into Electricity that the drone gospel blues was going to be in full flow. The first two tracks nicely laid out the set list, plenty of songs from this years Sweet Heart Sweet Light album interspersed with numbers from the back catalogue.
Death, drugs, addiction, illness, the Devil, God, Jesus, redemption are the consistent themes mined over the years but the songs have an incredibly uplifting aspect to them, no more so than when played live. This feeling of communality was very much in evidence tonight and at times it felt almost raving/The Orb like to me, perhaps the way Jason stretches and loops the songs building layer on layer of sound and tempo creates this? This sonic intensity has always been part of their sound but as the band have developed over the years this intensity has for me been married to a greater clarity in what they are doing to enable them to deliver the perfection that I witnessed tonight. There are very few bands who can move this old soul but tonight the hairs physically stood up on the back of my neck and goosepumps were much in evidence. It was about as close to a religious experience I’m ever going to get. As usual (and I like this) Jason did not utter a single word to the audience just created his magic and departed – Ladies and Gentlemen I’ve been Spiritualized