Spiritualized: Live from Barbican



I still remember – with some anxiety – the feeling of listening to Ladies And Gentleman We Are Floating In Space for the first time. It was autumn, and I’d just broken up with the love of my life at that point, I was floating, lost in space, anxious and looking for answers. And then I found Spiritualized. And I’ll guess I’m not the only one.

In the 20 years since ‘Ladies and gentlemen’ first debuted, much has changed. For many who have discovered Spiritualized at the heart of a sinking relationship, Ladies And Gentlemen is a record that’s lodged with memories, something that’s almost immediately visible from the audience at the Barbican for last night’s album-show.

Tears spill out as people throw themselves from the seats. Head’s bashing forward. People looking up towards the sky, singing with their eyes closed. All manner of human emotion is here, in all its forms.

This is the second of two shows at the Barbican. And the second time in 5 years that they’ve played the record in full here. It’s a record that’s aged incredibly well, and alongside the likes of fellow contemporaries Damon and Noel, stands ground unlike the others. Steeped in influences from the free-jazz and spiritual gatherings of the late 60’s, to the blind rock and roll of The Beatles, there’s something about it that still sounds fresh. Whether it’s the gospel undertones, or the fact the song writing still remains timeless, it’s hard to say. But nevertheless, it’s airing at the Barbican opens the chasm into a wonderful nostalgic journey.

For the live show the band have added a gospel choir and string and brass sections to complete the line-up. The choir, dressed in white ankle-length robes spend the performance in chorus with frontman Jason Pierce. Jason sits curiously on the right hand side of the stage, tucked away on a barstool behind a music stand, giving the effect that we’re seeing the album in it’s original recording. No one-band member takes any obvious hierarchy, leaving each element is openly visible.

Whilst the sound may not at points do the album justice – at points making it feels screechy and overwhelming, rather than gentle and approachable – it’s in the last few tracks of the record that the band really shine. ‘Cool Waves’ is tender and touching, made even more so as Jason and the choir drift together, while ‘Cop Shoot Cop’ eats up the space in the Barbican, added to by the band jamming their own live version.

‘Out of sight’ begins the encore, to loud praise from the audience. One man from the back shouts down, “thank you, thank you Jason.” Led out by a surprise full-on gospel choir led rendition of ‘Happy Days’ – the smiles it leaves still holding visibly on people’s faces as they exit the auditorium.

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