Spiritualized at Brighton Dome – review

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After more than three decades Spiritualized continue to provide an almighty aural range of sounds and emotion which make the band's shows so remarkable.

They took to the Brighton Dome stage as part of the Brighton Festival with the most climatic opener you're ever likely to hear.

Hey Jane, is a deceptively simple, drawn-out, ultra-cool, chopping block chord workout of beautiful low clanging guitar which The Stooges would have killed for, full of rock and roll phrasing it melts into a menacing L.A. Woman style interlude before building back into a rapid Krautrock rhythm and huge reverb-drenched crescendo of noise and heavenly voices.

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In 10 minutes they surged through more momentum than and intent than most acts manage in a whole show.

Spiritualized at Brighton Dome, May 2024.Spiritualized at Brighton Dome, May 2024.
Spiritualized at Brighton Dome, May 2024.

Performing as a six-piece under the control of Jason Pierce (a.k.a Jason Spaceman), the supporting line-up of musicians has stabilised somewhat in recent years, after a turbulent initial ten years, following its formation after the acrimonious end of the hugely influential psychedelic noise-niks Spaceman 3.

Pierce's fragile but unmistakable vocals are supported by three powerful female backing singers, where Pierce has often used a choir.

After the lung-bursting, synapse-banging opening tune, the onslaught continued with She kissed me and a Felt Like a Hit, a rapid more muscular version of the 2003 song, cronky guitars screamed in the reds, greens, purples and blues of a great light show, and built to another sonic maelstrom.

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The opening salvo ended with the wondrous and much-slower gospel-tinged Shine A Light, one of the very few older tracks of the evening, Amid the swirling sounds Pierce's gentle vocals were isolated and sounded as vulnerable as they did way back when.

Jason Pierce - SpiritualizedJason Pierce - Spiritualized
Jason Pierce - Spiritualized

In his familiar position, barely moving, sat stage right, shades and dressed in white, at times he was engulfed in so much dry ice it looked like and sounded like episode of Stars in Their Eyes, but directed by David Lynch.

Curiously, the rest of the set was almost entirely made up of ballad-heavy tracks from the two most recent two albums, with just one other from 2012's Sweet Heart Sweet Light.

On the surface that seems pretty slim pickings from a back catalogue of nine studio albums, but the newer material fared well and was given extra life by the band's hugely impressive stage chops.

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The only slightly duff note was slightly cloying Always Together with You, a sweet enough song but hamstrung by being featured on an ad for the National Lottery, and as result seems to have been overplayed on radio and TV.

Although the similarly-paced I'm Your Man, was a far more agreeable prospect, a lovely lament for the ‘wasted, loaded, permanently folded’.s

The motorik urgency of The Road is imbued with even more urgency on the night and is a rampaging presence, while Here It Comes (The Road) Let's Go buzzes with warmth, delicious smooth guitar and the live incarnation has an extra Stonesy swagger to it.

Elsewhere The A Song has an epic feel to it and under the feedback and squalling jazz sax sounds, there’s a real sense of purpose to it, driven by huge fanfare synths.

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No-one is short-changed by the lack of old favourites and the night ends with the gentle but celebratory So Long You Pretty Thing, stylistically similar to the opener Hey Jane, but a soothing emollient to its rock and roll abrasiveness.

The Spaceman is shining on and still presides over an unmissable live show.

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