not a member? click here to sign up
Spiritualized live in Belfast
Jason Pierce doesn’t do Dogme. For all the talk of a stripped-down, back-to-basics approach on Amazing Grace, his most recent record is as comparable to something like Slanted And Enchanted, as Solaris is to Festen.
Colin Carberry, 03 Feb 2004
Jason Pierce doesn’t do Dogme. For all the talk of a stripped-down, back-to-basics approach on Amazing Grace, his most recent record is as comparable to something like Slanted And Enchanted, as Solaris is to Festen. Make no mistake: this is big, surround sound and CGI music and, while Pierce may make poetic capital from playing the slumped-in-the-corner card, these songs have energetically expansionist plans.
Opening tune ‘Electricity’ makes these ambitions abundantly clear. It juggernauts off the stage, backed by hooligan noise and incessant, migraine-inducing strobe lights. The contrast between this onrush and the gorgeous, catatonic lullaby of the next tune – ‘Shine A Light’ – is startling: a return to the fireside after being caught in a blizzard.
This trick is repeated throughout. Pierce drops and charges through gears like an F1 driver. But while it’s all undeniably dizzying, ultimately you have to wonder if it takes you all the way to the kind of destination that was promised at the outset.
Spiritualized have gathered a reverent congregation over the years but despite the impressive grandeur, the smoky mystique, and a noise that reaches so fearlessly for the stars, agnostic doubts prove difficult to shake off.
It’s a question of faith. And while ‘Hold On’ and ‘Walking With Jesus’ could tempt anyone onto the road to Damascus, far too often (‘Out Of Sight’ turns into a slog) an in-depth probe sets the material creaking.
Tonight it’s easy to admire from afar, but moments of transcendence are in short supply.