Spiritualized at First Avenue, 5/2/12
|Photo By Erik Hess|
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
View a slideshow from the concert here.
In the end, Jason Pierce didn't have to say a thing to command the room. The Spiritualized frontman let his mercurial music do all of the talking for him during the first show of their current U.S. tour at First Avenue on Wednesday night -- a generous two-hour, 17 song performance that drew from all phases of the band's stellar back catalog.
Pierce had a four-piece band and two backup singers to support him, with the group spread out openly on the large Mainroom stage as Pierce stayed locked behind his lit-up music stand throughout the entire enthralling show.
Spiritualized wasted little time kicking things into high gear as they started their set with the sprawling, epic first single from Sweet Heart, Sweet Light, "Hey Jane," which would have served as an ideal closing track for most bands. But Spiritualized certainly aren't like most bands, and "Hey Jane" only proved to be a glorious precursor for what was to come. The hymn-like "Lord Let It Rain On Me" quickly followed, and was a stunning early set highlight, with the band not showing any signs of rust or sonic kinks that a tour kickoff show tends to bring. They were on point straight from the start.
After a euphoric rendition of "Headin' For the Top Now," which featured some edgy guitar work from Pierce, a raucous, lively version of "She Kissed Me (It Felt Like a Hit)" took an already great set to a complete other level. It was a pure, electric jolt of rock 'n' roll lightning, and indeed hit everyone in the club pretty hard. A celebratory version of "Lay Back In the Sun" kept the energy level high, as the tight group's jubilant melodies washed over the entire club.
|Photo By Erik Hess|
The music was periodically augmented by colorful, abstract images projected on a large screen set up behind the band, which only added to the frenetic, entrancing sounds they were generating. And, other than the occasional burst of white strobe lights, the stage was kept rather dark for much of the show, save for Pierce's lone light above his music stand. And Pierce himself (or J. Spaceman if you prefer) had on his customary, mostly-white outfit with big, tortoise-shell colored shades and sweet snakeskin shoes. But all of that was mere window-dressing for the dynamic music itself, which absolutely soared all evening long.
A double-shot from Amazing Grace lifted the middle of the set, as "Oh Baby" and "Rated X" both fit in seamlessly with the lovely new number, "I Am What I Am." But then Pierce dug deep into his back catalog, and dusted off spirited renditions of the mostly-instrumental "Born, Never Asked" and "Electric Mainline," from the 1995 classic Pure Phase. It was a brilliant sonic excursion for Jason and the band, who pushed the tracks to a blissful, discordant edge. And just when you think Pierce and co. couldn't throw any more surprises into the set, the group eased into a spectacular, stirring version of "Ladies And Gentleman We Are Floating In Space" that the band expanded into a sprawling, lengthy rendition that only built on the song's tender, raw emotions. It was perfect.
|Photo By Erik Hess|
And that wouldn't be all we'd get from Ladies And Gentleman..., as the rest of the set drew heavily from that masterpiece (which Pierce played in its entirety at select gigs in 2009-10). Alongside truly moving versions of "Mary" and the warmhearted "So Long You Pretty Things," the main set closed with an exploratory rendition of "Stay With Me," and a blistering run through of "Come Together" that left everyone roaring their approval during the lengthy encore break. Pierce thanked the crowd briefly as he walked off the stage, one of only two times he said a word throughout the entire set.
The encore started with a fiery, riotous version of "Electricity," that transitioned smoothly into a bluesy version of "Cop Shoot Cop," which was an emphatic, expansive close to the show, with Pierce tearing through one rapid fire guitar solo after another throughout the lengthy, explosive track. And with another quick word of thanks and a round of applause toward the crowd, Pierce and the band were off, leaving their fans stunned with the musical brilliance they just witnessed.
Personal Bias: This was my fourth time seeing Spiritualized, and they played a few older songs that I've never had the pleasure of hearing them perform. I had sky-high expectations coming into this show, and Jason and the band far exceeded them.
The Crowd: A good mix of hardcore Spiritualized lifers and some new fans who were seeing them for the first time.
Overheard In The Crowd: "Jason doesn't really move around all that much, does he?"
Random Notebook Dump: The show was so good that I bought their new LP AND a t-shirt.
Lord Let It Rain On Me
Headin' For The Top Now
She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit)
Lay Back In The Sun
I Am What I Am
Born Never Asked
Ladies And Gentleman We Are Floating In Space
Stay With Me
So Long You Pretty Things
Cop Shoot Cop (Encore)
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