Spiritualized @ The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, 23 May
As rumours circle that they may have made their final album, Spiritualized's live show proves up to the task of matching the beauty of their back catalogue
There are a number of grumbles circulating as a not-quite-full Fruitmarket waits for Spiritualized. Chief among them is the change of venue (from Kelvingrove Bandstand to The Old Fruitmarket), which some feel doesn't warrant the £50 admission, but also the lack of support with an 8.30pm start time, which we're now 15 minutes past. But after a snippet of Hold On, we're greeted with Come Together in all its majesty, grace and spacey visuals, and any ill will is seemingly swept under the carpet.
Jason Pierce is typically inscrutable; sitting with a guitar behind some shades and not venturing any gesture towards the crowd beyond the odd glance, he's totally engrossed in the music. Pierce is joined tonight by another two guitarists, a bassist, drummer, keyboardist and three back-up vocalists, adding the requisite amount of gospel to the ensuing psychedelia (exemplified as much by the swirling imagery and radiant lightshow as the meandering guitarwork and powerful walls of sound).
After a few hits, like Soul on Fire and Shine a Light, the band set to ploughing through the entirety of the brilliant new Spiritualized album, And Nothing Hurt, a criminally underrated gem whose quiet/loud dynamics play out beautifully in a live setting. Songs like Here it Comes (The Road) Let's Go and Let's Dance provide moments of reflection amidst the otherwise ear-splitting freakouts of The Morning After and Sail on Through, palette-cleansing moments of tranquility that are necessary to better digest the heavier jams to come. Much of the crowd seem unfamiliar with the album and there's a mixture of awed reverence as some fans find their soundtrack for the next six months, while others are apparently just killing time until the encore. Their loss.
The encore continues the rapturous streak set in motion by The Morning After (or maybe since Come Together?), bathing the Fruitmarket in fluorescent neons as So Long You Pretty Thing, Out of Sight and Oh Happy Day further ensnare the adoring crowd in Pierce's alluring invocations of sin and pleas for redemption.
Rumours of And Nothing Hurt possibly being the final chapter in the Spiritualized story are more than a little sad, but if this is the way Pierce and co are planning to bow out, it's with a legacy firmly intact and a live show well up to the task of matching the magisterial beauty of one of the strongest back catalogues of the last 30 years.