Tuesday, 13 October 2009
SPIRITUALIZED at the ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL
There’s a fad at the moment for bands so far past their sell-by date the maggots eating their brains decree to play their “classic” album in its entirety. Only the other day I saw Ned’s Atomic Dustbin are to play their seminal (cough) 1991 album God Fodder in December. In fairness times are tough and if the Brummy binmen can put food on the table by cobbling together a quick run through of their cack to a bunch of stinking grebo inbreds who am I to bitch?
Now, of course, this does not in any way apply to Spiritualized and their revisiting 1997’s spacey-psychedelic-jazz-rock-fuzzed-mournful Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. Not at all. No way. Completely different. For a start, I like it; thus it’s cool and beyond reproach. Plus there’s still some legs left in the band as 2008’s Songs In A&E proved. Also, Ladies and Gentlemen is such a complicated and intricate piece of work (piece of - dare I say - art even) performing it live, and doing it justice, is a logistic nightmare and not something to attempted lightly. So much so there are about 30 people on stage tonight tackling it: the band, a choir, a brass section and a sting section.
And the result? Absolutely amazing. Truly. The extended opening title track blows the original version to kingdom come. “All I want from life is a little bit of love to take the pain away” moans Jason Spaceman, then the choir kicks in and it makes infinite more sense and hits the heart far harder than ever before. And on it goes. You should know the album so I won’t list the tracks. The album highlights are the show’s highlights with the explosive intergalactic garage rock of “Electricity” almost knocking my head clean off with its G-force.
It isn’t much of a visual spectacle unless you watch the choir dancing but Spiritualized always make more sense with your eyes closed anyway. Mr Spaceman sits on a swivel chair sideways to the stage throughout and says nothing before, during or after. The original 70 minute LP is extended to a full 90 minute headfuck and credit to the sound engineer and the RFH as you could pick out every single individual note played by each musician.
One of those “you had to be there” nights. Me, I’m still floating somewhere over the Southbank.