Live Review: Spiritualized, Metro, Chicago 9/8/08

photos by Jeremy Farmer
review by Aubrey Skibicki

The author can now say, with pride, that she has now seen Spiritualized twice in a year. This comes after an unrequited love affair with the band, over a decade old. I can say that the wait was well worth it after seeing J. Spaceman/Jason Pierce and company pour their heart and soul collectively out for the crowd gathered to see them at Metro Monday night.

Just after 9:30, Spiritualized walked on stage to tease the crowd with a little bit of “Amazing Grace”. Rather then go ahead with that song fully, they went into “You Lie You Cheat” off the latest release, Songs in A & E. Soon after, they took the crowd back to 1992 with “Shine A Light” (quite easily one of my favorite Spiritualized songs) off their debut album Laser Guided Melodies. The crowd was, from where I was standing, visibly moved. They swelled in unison back and forth as J. Spaceman and his band belted through a myriad songs off from their entire catalog. It was at about “Soul On Fire” when I took notice of one particular fan up front about three people in. This guy had his hands outstretched to the ceiling as if his very soul was being saved by J. Spaceman himself. He was clearly having an epiphany or a soul cleansing, or perhaps he saw the light. A combination of the show itself and that particular fan were enough to make me believe in the power of Spiritualized. The sheer volume of this show also made me a believer in ear plugs. The wall of sound radiating through the Metro was enough to render me slightly deaf. Clearly all of their amps were set to 11.

What impressed me most about this performance overall was that, while its focus was definitely on the breadth of Songs in A & E, the band touched upon every album. They played at least one piece off of their entire discography. Personal highlights of mine were “Lay Back in the Sun” from Pure Phase, “Walk with Jesus” and the awe striking “Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space.” This is undoubtedly my favorite Spiritualized song and I will divulge that I want this played at my wedding should I ever get married. I was shook when they began this song, and the crowd must have felt similarly. There were sounds of agreement, jubilation and even more arms were thrown into the air.

They closed their set with “Come Together” from the 1997 album, Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. I must say that I found the intimacy and overall atmosphere of this show to be much more powerful and meaningful than at Pitchfork. This is for blatantly obvious reasons. “Come Together” prompted the audience to come together not as a crowd but as a congregation.

And as surprising as the resurrection of JC, J. Spacemen and his band came back on stage to do a proper encore with “Lord Can You Hear Me” which set the crowd into a frenzy, and if my friend Brian was there I’m sure he would have been in tears. As Spaceman resonated his feedback through every person’s ears, the crowd responded by singing his chorus with him as the back up singers provided support. Perhaps the rapture occurred Monday night, as this was truly a religious experience.

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