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.