7 p.m. show/doors
Jason Pierce, aka J. Spaceman, doesn’t fool around. Four studio albums and one amazing live recording in and his band Spiritualized continues to send chills up the spines of aficionados, both Stateside and in their native England. Get ready to be taken away by his 13-piece band when they hit the stage at the Roseland on tonight.
Known for mind-blowing live performances, Spiritualized has pushed the boundaries of rock for a decade now. Formed in the wake of Pierces’s former group Spacemen 3 (see Sonic Boom article in last Thursday’s Vanguard), this band wraps gospel and R&B influences in a perfect haze of space rock. Wanna take a trip? This is your show.
Pierce is no stranger to controversy. Two years ago, he sacked everyone in the band in a money fight. Three years ago, his longtime girlfriend and band mate was, ahem, stolen by Verve pretty boy Richard Ashcroft. And the establishment, well, they have no idea what to think. In a recent preview of their New York performance (in a 19th-century church, no less) the New Yorker mistakenly dubbed his band’s work “stoner music.”
But Pierce finds means to cope. On “I think I’m in love,” from the 1997 release Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space, he sings, “Love in the middle of an afternoon/just me, my spike, my arm and my spoon.” Former band members (and Pierce himself) have made claims that Pierce isn’t the druggie his lyrics claim him to be, but his music will make you think otherwise.
This is music that will render you, well, spiritualized. And it’s not all show. “Early in the morning/I take my medication/and I spend the rest of the day/waiting for it to wear off,” Pierce sings on the track “Medication.” The thing is, a Spiritualized record has just that effect – if you listen to one first thing in the morning, you might as well write off the day.
And it’s a testament to the power of song that Pierce doesn’t read music. Let it come down, the latest record was written in its entirety by Pierce singing into a dictaphone and later working it out on his guitar. Impressive, considering the record includes a full gospel choir, horns and strings on almost every track.
Admittedly, LICD is not the band’s best album, but in reality, all of Spiritualized’s albums might be taken together as one long hypnotic work. The band’s live shows, however, never fail to thrill, and this ears tour has so far proved no exception.
The 13-piece touring group comes complete with a horn section that is reportedly hotter than sin, and a pared-down gospel choir that is, well, heavenly. We’re lucky he made it, to tell the truth. The drummer’s father passed away the day before the first show of the U.S. leg of the tour. Think Pierce is gonna call off a tour? Nu-uh. The replacement had five hours to learn the set before the show. By all accounts, he’s filling in admirably.
Fans of live music know of Spiritualized’s reputation – we’re talking over two hours of music, no breaks, no banter with the audience, no nothing, just music. Oh yeah, and lights. Spiritualized fans are such freaks they mounted a campaign to get them to play a daylong show, consisting of all their favorite songs. Yeah right.
Regardless, this is the place to go if you want to be taken somewhere else. After seeing them open for Radiohead in Eugene a few years back, a friend told me she was transported to a different place. She didn’t feel like she was transported, she was transported. That’s what it’s like to be Spiritualized.