Spiritualized at The Fonda Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, April 20, 2022 | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Spiritualized

Spiritualized at The Fonda Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, April 20, 2022,

Apr 28, 2022 Photography by Piper Ferguson
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In between appearances at Coachella, Spiritualized held an unofficial reunion of indie music-loving Gen Xers at The Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. More than a few roll calls were put out on that generation’s social media outlets and the responses echoed throughout the venue—even reaching Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, a quintessential millennial, who was in attendance. But, Spiritualized is never of a specific time.

Born in 1990 out of the ashes of Spacemen 3, the much-copied band, which is central figure Jason Pierce and whichever musicians he has around him, has been a leader in sonics and presentation from the start. The show at the Fonda solidified that position once again.

For some time now, Pierce has been setting up his band in a semi-circle for live shows, with his drummer in the one o’clock position and himself seated far stage left behind a music stand. This configuration, while taking some getting used to, provides Pierce with the vantage point of a conductor, or the first chair of his mini-cosmic orchestra. The band members, watertight and in tune with each other, create a controlled chaos with their sublime performance.

With eyes hidden behind shades and his signature back-lit light show blurring him out, Pierce’s focus is on delivery rather than interaction. There is no break and no banter, and no need for either as Spiritualized blasted through songs from its discography of 30+ years. Starting with “Hey Jane” from 2012’s Sweet Heart Sweet Light, then rewinding back a decade to “She Kissed Me (It Felt Like a Hit)” from 2003’s Amazing Grace, and rewinding yet another decade to “Shine a Light” from their 1992 debut, Lazer Guided Melodies, there is a defined through-thread of narcotic yet ferocious, guitar-driven tidal wave that overwhelming the audience, takes everything and everyone in its path with it.

Spiritualized’s jukebox-unfriendly songs can, at times, run up to 10 minutes. This was the case with the intimate “I’m Coming Home Again,” from the most recent album, the delayed Everything Was Beautiful, released two days after the Fonda show. The song signaled a turn in the tone of the show from cacophony to gospel-driven blues. For these, the superb back-up vocalists went a long way in providing a holy feel to the evening.

A three-song stretch pulled from 2018’s And Nothing Hurt, including “A Perfect Miracle,” “The Morning After,” and “Here it Comes (the Road) Let’s Go.” Two more songs from that album popped up later, “Damaged” and “Sail on Through.” Everything from And Nothing Hurt has Pierce’s “J Spaceman” persona on it, part deranged cosmic cowboy guitar twangs and good ol’ boy sentiments, part frenzied, synthesizer-centric alien.

Perennial favorite “Come Together” was a marked highlight of the evening, the only song from, arguably, Spiritualized’s most popular album, 1997’s Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. The song acted as a call to arms, tangibly pulling the completely smitten crowd together even more.

The encore began quiet and once again holy, with just Pierce’s voice and keys on “So Long You Pretty Thing,” neatly bookending the performance with another song from Sweet Heart Sweet Light.

At the close of the performance, Pierce left his chair came to the center of the stage, raising his arms to his crowd like the messiah they feel he is, and to say his only non-sung words of the evening, “Thank you.”

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