Spiritualized, Band Of Skulls
For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of going to a gig at the Assembly Rooms in Leamington Spa, you are missing out. It's a 600-odd capacity venue housed inside what appears to be an old church, complete with beautifully designed ceilings and stain glass windows. There's not many better venues to witness the genius that is Spiritualized, add to that the fact that it's a venue that it sells cans of beer - okay, only Red Stripe but still, they let you keep the cans, meaning that one trip to the bar can set you up for the whole gig - and the whole place has a special sort of feel.
Spiritualized didn't let the side down. As someone who never saw the original line up, only hearing the stunning live Albert Hall album, I've long held the opinion that Spiritualized's best work was done in the studio and not on stage. From the opening song, though, J Spaceman appeared intent on proving me wrong, with a more stripped down line up than I think I've ever seen them have before: two guitars, a bass, drums, and a keyboard, with the added pleasure of two gospel singers, Jason and crew ripped through the set with more intensity than ever. From the opening salvo of a drone, garage rendition of the traditional hymn Amazing Grace, followed by recent album favourite You lie, You Cheat, and the classic Shine A Light, Spiritualized had the crowd eating out of their hands.
Moving gracefully and more willingly between every era of the Spiritualized back catalogue, better than ever before, with even a bit of Spaceman 3 stuff thrown in for the ride, there can be no doubt this is a band on top of their game. Whether it's down to Jason's recent brush with death or the thought of the upcoming Play It Back show, where they will play their masterpiece Ladies and Gentleman We are Floating in Space live as a whole, something has caused Jason Pierce and gang to discover their hunger and bite once more. Doing more numbers from Ladies and Gentlemen than I've ever seen them do, mixed with more recent classics like Set Your Soul On Fire, This Little Light Of Mine, Won't Get To Heaven (The State I'm In), and a spell blinding Lord Can You Hear Me, which I'm not ashamed to admit had me in tears, this was one of Britain's greatest bands in the prime of their life.
Anyone who has a ticket for the Play It Back gigs is in for a treat - if anyone has a spare I'll love you for ever if you let me have it because on this form it's a gig not to be missed.