Spiritualized @ O2 ABC, 22 March

Live Review by Chris McCall | 29 Mar 2012

As befitting his name, the slim, shades-wearing individual who calmly walks on stage tonight acts like he's from another planet. Dressed in white, he is supposedly aged 46, but despite his well-documented health struggles looks almost half of that. He silently picks up his guitar, and without instruction, his band begin a two hour set of dazzling, gospel-fused space rock. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Spiritualized, led by the incomparable Jason Pierce, aka J. Spaceman.

They begin with a rousing performance of Come Together, with Pierce's fragile vocal boosted by two gospel backing singers, lifting it over the dense drone of the guitars. New single Hey Jane is a stand-out of the first half of the set – a simple melody that's been expanded into an eight minute celebration of noise and wonder. Its closing mantra of 'sweet heart, sweet light, and love of my life' proves that Pierce has lost none of the ability to write modern secular hymns that stick long in the memory.

The legacy of Spacemen 3 – Pierce's former band – lives on in everything he does; he refuses to write radio-friendly, three minute pop songs. The 18 minute guitar work-out of Cop Shoot Cop, for example, is a staggering piece of music, but it's not something you feel the whole audience particularly enjoys. Still, there's no denying the genius of Pierce; his marriage of drone rock with melody and a euphoric chorus is still a breathtaking spectacle to behold.