Spiritualized at the Bluebird Theater, 4-4-13 (photos, review)By Reverb Staff | April 5th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
By Jonathan Gang
Spiritualizedâ€™s music is an intricate, highly-layered construction on record. Singer and guitarist Jason Pierce, the bandâ€™s only constant member, has spent the past 23 years crafting simple pop songs that are often built up to epic proportions. Songs can include layers and layers of horns, organs, gospel choruses, strings and electronics.
Itâ€™s always interesting to see how a band that relies so heavily on the artifice of the studio will bring its sound to the stage in a small group setting. For Thursdayâ€™s show at the Bluebird Theater, Pierce appeared with only a second guitarist, drums, bass, keys and two backup singers. It was a small crew with a tall order, recreating the psychedelic bombast that has defined Spiritualizedâ€™s music in a career-spanning set that drew from seven albums.
They made a valiant effort, but an atrocious sound mix marred much of the first half of the show. Pierceâ€™s treble heavy rhythm guitar was mixed way up front, drowning out just about everything except for the drums and overdriven bass. The result was a barely audible din of piercing treble and punishing low end with little definition in the middle.
This issue took nearly 45 minutes to correct. By that time it felt as if the audience had been robbed of what could have been solid performances of some of the bandâ€™s best rockers, including â€śHey Janeâ€ť from 2012â€™s â€śSweet Love, Sweet Lightâ€ť and â€śElectricityâ€ť from their 1997 masterpiece â€śLadies and Gentlemen, we are Floating in Space.â€ť
By the midway point, with the levels finally reaching a solid equilibrium, the band locked into a spare, yet tight, groove. Songs like â€śFreedom,â€ť â€śSo Long you Pretty Thing,â€ť â€śLet it Flowâ€ť and â€śRated Xâ€ť struck a fine balance between the bandâ€™s sweeter pop tendencies and penchant for mixing atonal, psychedelic freak-outs with big gospel refrains.
By the set-ending one-two punch of the raucous â€śI Think Iâ€™m in Loveâ€ť and slow-building â€śTake your Time,â€ť all was nearly forgiven. The encore, â€śWalking with Jesusâ€ť by Pierceâ€™s classic former band Spacemen 3, was icing on the cake. It was good enough to make you wonder how sweet the showâ€™s first half might have sounded if it had been audible.
Jonathan Gang is a new contributor to Reverb.