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Spiritualized - Lemon Grove, Exeter University, Exeter, 3/2/2004

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 1 / 2 / 2004

Spiritualized - Lemon Grove, Exeter University, Exeter, 3/2/2004


At his third Spiritualized show in two years, Ben Howarth discovers that the band's hard touring schedule has pushed them towards new boundaries

My third Spiritualized show in the space of two years and, once again, a majestic experience. I saw an incredible set at Reading in 2002, which was one of the most noisy and intense musical experiences of my entire life, and was improved further by the fact that I was in the very front row. It made me determined to see Jason Pierce and his band again at the first opportunity. That I duly did, making sure I was in the crowd for their Electric Ballroom show in London last year. Again, the band were great, but I perhaps enjoyed it less for two reasons. I’d not at that point had the opportunity to digest the latest album, 'Amazing Grace' from which most of the set came and also I had the misfortune to stand right in front of a total jerk who insisted on dancing extravagantly whilst all around him tried to enjoy the music. No such problems this time. The Lemon Grove is a good music venue, although it is odd seeing bands in a building that is usually the home of a coffee shop and various poster/book/clothes/record sales or the student club night. It has two bars to stand in before the show, and always has a good sound. The real plus is that it is barely 20 minutes from my front door, compared to having to trek all the way to some poorly designed London venue with an awful sound. The billed support act was the Raveonettes, which was disappointing to me because I would have to struggle long and hard to find a band more derivative and unambitious, but as luck would have it they pulled out and a blues singer by the name of David Viner appeared instead. He was a hoot, playing a lot of covers and really giving a great performance that drew quite a few curious music lovers from the bar that had no intention of watching the billed support. Of course, nothing compares to Jason Pierce and Spiritualized. It took quite a while for the band to settle down, stop tuning up and break into a genuine song, but this heightened the anticipation and when 'Electricity' arrived it was quite clear that the band were going to be on top form. 'Walking With Jesus' soon followed, a song from Pierce’s Spacemen 3 days and a constant in all 3 sets I have seen. The first half of the set was mostly dedicated to 'Amazing Grace', and the contrasts between the freak out of  'Never Goin’ Back'and 'Cheapster' and the beautiful 'Hold On'and 'Oh baby' were especially magnificent. 'Lord Let It Rain On Me' and 'The Ballad Of Richie Lee' are, however, two of Spiritualized’s best songs, both benefitting from the less extravagant backing and the subsequent increase in space that the 7 rather than 22 piece band gives. Jason, an underrated vocalist, sang each with complete sincerity and presence. The second half of the set was given over more to songs from 'Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space', most of which did not appear the previous two occasions I saw the band.'Come Together' is a monster of a song, just like its namesake Beatles track it is vicious, simple and bloody effective. 'Broken Heart' is as beautiful as music gets, the violins that made the album version so perfect replaced here by a sublime combination of keyboard and harmonica. 'Cop Shoot Cop'was out of this world, the rolling groove and Jason’s hissing vocals augmented by a penetrative combination of feedback and improvised saxophone. It seems the desired effect of the Spiritualized live set is to leave the audiences’ senses completely shattered. The barrage of light and spells of extreme noise, while exhilarating, were also exhausting. I could not ask for more in band than was offered here, the time spent on the road since I saw them in London in September has been well spent and they have gone beyond even the spectacle they delivered at Reading. I just hope I don’t have to wait too long to see them again.

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Spiritualized - Lemon Grove, Exeter University, Exeter, 3/2/2004

Spiritualized - Lemon Grove, Exeter University, Exeter, 3/2/2004

Spiritualized - Lemon Grove, Exeter University, Exeter, 3/2/2004

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Interview with Jason Pierce (2004)
Spiritualized - Interview with Jason Pierce
Backstage at a gig in Exeter, Spiritualized frontman Jason Pierce talks to Ben Howarth about the band's latest album 'Amazing Grace' and the group's current hard touring schedule

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Royal Festival Hall, London, 1/8/2004
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Sweet Heart, Sweet Light (2012)
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