SPIRITUALIZED // THE OLD FRUITMARKET, GLASGOW
Spiritualized elevated with a cradling performance of their tender, new release that displayed its beauty and projected attendees in a stratospheric direction.
Jason Pierce is a deeply introspective man. He has also battled to make music and drawn from unlikely inspirations. His initial project was the drone rock, psychedelia experience, Spaceman 3, formed with friend Peter Kember. The two Warwickshire lads adopted pseudonyms, Kember’s being Sonic Boom and Pierce taking J. Spaceman, and spawned five extraordinary albums in their ten year gift to the world of experimental rock. As their against-the-grain, drugged-fuelled career left the pair’s relationship in tatters, the pair split and both moved on to pursue other projects.
And thus the path was set for Pierce to take control - and he knew his direction. Whether it’s a drawn-out, opulent crescendo or a stripped-back, delicate, soothing, embracer, Pierce was set unleash his deepest wisdom with power and poignancy. With former Spaceman 3 members Will Carruthers, Jonny Mattock and Mark Refoy joined by Steve Evans, J. Spaceman took the reins and Spiritualized came to life. Of their eight studio albums, their most notorious is the eclectic journey Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space which pulls praise from virtually all who come across it.
With line-up changes punctuating there existence, Pierce is the only one constant to membership. Yet, a continuous thread penetrates album, every track arguably, that celebrates the ground-breaking experience of release. Pierce travelled through lifetime extremes with Spiritualized as he worked through treatment for liver disease when he made Sweet Heart Sweet Light and through double pneumonia during leading up to Song in A&E.
Now, as Spiritualized hold near thirty years in their shadow, they are touring their latest craft And Nothing Hurt. A title taken from the words of a Kurt Vonnegut novel, this album is a glorious work by the group and they toured it with all the reverence it required.
For their Glasgow show, the venue changed worked out highly in the night’s favour when the performance moved to the picturesque, true to its name, Old Fruit Market instead of the a cold night in Kelvingrove Park like originally planned. It was moved to a comfortable, surreal set up complete with spiral staircases, vintage shopfronts, awnings, fairy lights and a beautiful, kaleidoscope creating, stencilled, wooden roof. There was no support for the night but Spiritualized were sharp to the stage. The night was sold out and the waves of fans were joyously awaiting the submersion to come.
The group came out to walls of applause that supercharged when Pierce slinked out. ‘You got to hold on, baby, to those you hold near. .’ – Pierce’s opening lines for the night and for the track ‘Hold On’ set the tone of emotional intimacy that was in store. It was notable that none of the members ever took centre stage and all formed a semi-circle at the back of the stage allowing their tracks and stunning light and visual display to take appeal. They played fist raising, celebratory epic ‘Come Together,’ swooped into the slower-paced, gospel clasp of ‘Shine a Light’ and then into a chilling version of the admiring love song ‘Stay With Me.’
At the midpoint in the set, Pierce was flying high. Of course, I mean through the prowess of the performance as he, himself, remained playing seated the entire set and had no conversation with the crowd. They then launched in to play their new release And Nothing Hurt in its entirety. A brave decision but those who know the album will know that it is a cohesive work where each track shakes the hand of its predecessor and follows suit. The album is filled with grandiose spectacles that transport the listener with a tender expression of the human experience. Amazingly, this album is a so-called ‘bedroom’ recording after budget troubles left Pierce stumbling. This is in stark contrast to his last few releases yet the album manage to stay just as impacting. This profoundly refine, quintessential Spiritualized album has been highly praised and, just as Pierce has said with prior works, is claimed to be last of its kind.
Delight erupted from the fans when the positively shill, somewhat lullaby, ‘A Perfect Miracle’ started up. This dejected love song cuddles the song’s antagonist before turning and softlying revealing a true desire for freedom. It’s followed by the swaying ballad that builds ‘I’m Your Man.’ Pierce sungs ever note with gusto. The frailness of some of the vocals perfectly blends with the frailties of tracks like ‘Let’s Dance’ and ‘Damaged’ but Pierce isn’t confined by this and can step up to the indie command of rebirth track ‘On the Sunshine’ and slick, punkier number ‘Morning After.’ ‘Sail On Through’ gently tied the bow on the set and it’s performance blew the album’s recording out of the water with its magnitude.
Within a flash the group are off stage but hastily return for an encore. Not to suggest that the night was in any way hurried as they played a set lasting well over two hours. The night is finished with magnificent versions of ‘Out of Sight’ and ‘Oh Happy Day’ and then comes back to night’s beginning with a ‘Hold On’ reprise.
Attendees of Spiritualized’s Glasgow set were left wondering how Pierce can write such long, drawn out songs but perform an evening that seems to pass in an instant. To hear music as affecting, in a setting so rare was a chilling blessing. And Nothing Hurt is prominent triumph. If this really is Spiritualized’s last work then Peirce has ended it with an outstanding conclusion.