Live Music + Gig Reviews

Spiritualized @ Union Chapel, London

9 December 2007



… And the Lord said unto Jason, “Go now Jason. Go forth and for two nights make the Union Chapel your own. No seriously, go. I’ve got so many of these bloody houses trying to visit them all is a nightmare. This omnipotence thing really gets on your nerves sometimes…”

…And Jason said nothing. Because he’s a rock star and prefers not to talk to mere mortals. Or, in this case, immortals. But listen he did, and forth he did go to Islington to set up shop in this most ecumenical of venues. And in the spirit of giving he brought friends: a quartet of strings, a trio of three (wise) gospel singers and a organist in a fetching leather blouse. And he called it the acoustic mainline tour…

And it was good. Really good. Biblically Good, if you will. For a variety of reasons, Spiritualized in a church just makes sense – and not just because several former members of the band would probably claim that Pierce thinks he’s God. No, it’s more to do with the fact that Spiritualized have always been a really, well, spiritual band.

It isn’t just the frequent lyrical references to one’s maker either, which quite frankly can be filed next the whole Spiritualized – Spiritual comment in the ‘no shit Sherlock’ file. It’s the redemption seeking, self-flagellating streak which runs through Pierce like some kind of really disappointing Brighton rock.

So here, in these surroundings, the songs just feel at home. Stop Your Crying swells like a sponge with elephantisis. Choirs and stringed instruments and chiming organs are poured into it, until breaking point is reached and the whole thing just explodes, flinging a mass of fluttering sound around the pulpits and the pews.

Ladies And Gentleman We Are Floating In Space is reeled back down to earth, depressurised, and then re spun betwixt Pierce’s melancholic, gravel eating murmur and a surging uplifting wave of violas, violins and evangelical backing to producing something moving enough to reduce Nick Cave to tears.

Even the new tracks don’t disappoint. Baby I’m A Fool is a countrified, frantic Bob Dylan-esque strum-a-long, while Goodnight, Goodnight is so fragile you’re concerned if you so much as cast a harsh look in its general direction it may shatter. Tonight it remains intact just about long enough to slyly morph into Silent Night.

See, spiritual. And festive. And absolutely fantastic. And only 15 shopping days until Christmas. For upon this evening, God looked down upon his Chapel, which He had not had time to visit for a while as he was too busy appearing in the President’s burrito in Texas, and he smiled. For, at least in this small part, all was well with the world…

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London Gigs: 7-13 November 2016