|Jason Pierce, leading Spiritualized.|
Clad in a simple white t-shirt and jeans, Mr. Pierce, the group's sole permanent member, played and sang the entire evening with his back to the half-empty hall. He was accompanied by an 8-piece string section, three guitars (counting his own) bass, drummer, percussionist, keyboards, a full brass section and a white-robed gospel choir. Gospel is a key element of Spiritualized's sound, along with the blues, psychedelic rock and the occasional sensory overload-inducing instrumental freak-out.
Ladies And Gentlemen is a deceptive record. It lulls the listener with its title track, which borrows from Pachelbel's Canon and Elvis Presley. Mr. Pierce and his forces built a shimmering wall of sound that would make Phil Spector proud. That wall shook and cracked as the band slammed into "Come Together" (not the Beatles tune) with Jason Pierce yowling about "the little fucker" amid the crash of band, brass and choir.
The show reached its first peak with a blinding, deafening performance of "Electricity" which dragged the audience in and pummelled their senses with deafening sound and flashing lights for five solid minutes. The effect is an unsettling throwback to the halcyon days of Syd Barrett and early Pink Floyd. The song? Think "Astronomy Domine" on steroids.
The second half of the album came across brilliantly in concert, particularly the instrumental "No God, Only Religion", the soothing "Cool Waves" and a searing, 20-minute performance of the moody "Cop Shoot Cop." For this song, a jazzy noir that builds into another scorching freak-out, the band created the right mood with horns, foggers and red strobes, set to flicker like buzzing neon signs. Following the deafening central section, the choir emerged from the aural rubble, singing a wordless refrain that brought the song home into its final pages.
The encore featured two songs The powerful, pantoum-like "Out of Sight" from the band's Let It Come Down brought the brass players to the forefront. "Oh, Happy Day" ended the show on an uplifting note. At the song's close, Jason Pierce said two words to the fervent audience. "Thank you."
Then, he walked off stage.