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  SPIRITUALIZED w/ Black Rebel Motorcycle Club  
  EarthLink Live  
  Midtown Atlanta, GA  
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This was a strange day. And no, i was not partaking of any of the hard things that Spiritualized leader J Spaceman seems to enjoy. It was just ... wierd. My job was it's usual exercise in pointlesness, and i got lost on one-way streets trying to get to EarthLink Live. (Damn one-way streets! I hope that whoever came up with that idea is enjoying their ETERNITY IN HELL!) So anyway: wierd.

And how much wierder can things get than seeing Spiritualized? Not much, when you get down to it.

Anyway, after my mis-adventure with one-way streets in midtown ATL, i had only a little time in which to grab an over-priced crappy beer ("What do you mean my choices are Bud, Bud Light, or AmberBock, all for $4.50 a cup!!!!!") and locate Dilettante in Distress in the milling throng of Spiritualized fans. And let me just say that this was an odd mix of folks: you had hippies, indie rockers, old stoner types, a few raver types, some goths, and a smattering of normal yuppie types. Seeing all of those people together is not a usual occurance. Such is the cultural melange that is Midtown, and such is the strange attraction of J Spaceman. But more on that later.

Before the Main Act, the ever-popular Black Rebel Motorcycle Club played a shortish set. They walked out to a fog machine and a sample of punk rock's grandma, Patti Smith, ranting and raving about something or another. In the recording, Smith was screaming and the crowd was yelling back, the fog was pouring out (that sickly smelling dry ice fog), and then BRMC walked out and took the stage. There was much applause, which suits a young band as they make the inexoriable climb to being too famous for me to stand. (If that phrase confuses you, read about my theory on the excitement to buzz ratio in bands.)

And they played as well i remembered/expected them to. Highlights included rocking renditions of Love Burns, Rifles, and Whatever Happened To My Rock n Roll?, well performed and over fogged.

My impression of them has not changed: good, but not that good. Dilettante in Distress, on the other hand, had never seen them before, and was very impressed. Or maybe it was "very very impressed". At any rate: she liked them. Now, Dilettante in Distress is a big 'Stones, Verve, JSBX fan, so her love of BRMC confirms my opinion that they are more of a garage-rock combo. At any rate, they were a fine opener, and really seemed to get the crowd moving.

So we went and had another beer, and found some nice soft seats on which to station ourselves to hear Spiritualized. The thought was: most of the music is kind of mellow, so it would be best to have a seat, rather than be standing and suddenly need to relax during a particularly long, slow guitar jam. This was a brilliant idea, and i recommend that anyone going to see Spiritualized find a seat. Of course, it helped that we were inside EarthLink Live, with it's perfect "bowl" shaped sound.

At any rate, Spiritualized were a seven piece for tonight's performance: J Spaceman Pierce on vocals and guitar, Thighpaulsandra (who is, i think, the only other original band member left) on keyboards and backing vocals, a drummer, a percussionist/secondary keyboardist, a bassist, and two more guitarists. A huge band to be sure, but the general consensus in the crowd was, "At least he didn't bring the whole choir from the album!" Basically, given Spaceman's propensity to pompousness and "overdoing it", a seven piece band was restrained.

And without much ado, Spiritualized dove into their set. Everything sounded great, but i recognized so few of the songs. About an hour in (this is halfway through their set), i was sitting there enjoying the show tremendously, and thinking "Wow, they must be doing a lot off of the new disc, because i don't recognize these songs." At that exact moment, Dilettante in Distress turned to me and said, "I'm only familiar with the new album, and i hope that they actually DO something off of it..."

And just then, the song that Spiritualized were jamming out changed. And the words J Spaceman was saying ... they sounded familiar. "Love, in the middle of the afternoon. / Just me, my arm, my spike, and my spoon." I sat there trying to place the song, when the bassist started The Riff. The Riff is irresistable. It might very well be what Spiritualized are remembered for, hundreds if years in the future when all mankind lives in orbiting space stations, eats pressed bacteria meal, and has three arms. The Riff starts off with a few high notes, slides down the fretboard, and ends with a few thumping deep notes. Lather, rinse, repeat The Riff as often as necessary. As soon as i heard The Riff i knew what song it was: I Think I'm In Love. This is my favorite song off of Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, but live it was transformed into a wholly different creation. This live version was slowed down, and i could both see and hear the interplay between the keys, the three guitars, The Riff, and the percussion. It was, quite simply, a stunning thing to see and hear.

The rest of the show, well, it was just gravy on top of that one, twenty minute song. Oh, it was quite good, but nothing else could compare to that moment when The Riff first shook it's way through EarthLink Live. Spiritualized played for just over two hours, and they played well. It was very enjoyable. Far more enjoyable than i had thought it would be. Spiritualized exceeded my expectaions, and that's always a good thing.

On the whole: i would definitely recommend either of these bands to anyone looking for a fun live show.

Related Links:

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club


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