Show Review: Spiritualized @ Emos (5/16)

I’d been looking forward to seeing Spiritualized for awhile now, ever since the show popped up on the calendar.  I knew it would be a packed house, and it was pretty full over at Emos, which always has an upside and a downside.

You can read on for our thoughts on opener Nikki Lane and the headliner below….with the usual camera shots from Brian Gray.

I’ve been pleasantly pleased with the work of opener Nikki Lane, but I was really suprised to see her come to the stage solo, as the majority of her recordings have a full band or at least some other accompaniment.  Stripped bare, musically speaking, I think Ms. Lane really outdid herself.  Her spot on this tour defnitely has a fitting role, seeing as Spiritualized‘s music has lately been a bit obsessed with American gospel/country.  The Nashville songstress played a nice quiet set that showed the strenght of her vocals, her clever deprecating lyrics and an amazing pair of eyes.  I enjoyed the fact that her performance had her alone, giving her the impression of an old-school Nashville performer.  Those that stopped talking long enough to watch Nikki were definitely treated to a great opening act.

Photo Guy’s Note: Another night where I enjoyed the opener more than the headliner. People, go to shows early. Discover something new.

My anticpation for the musical entree was quite high, and perhaps too high looking back now. Easy adjectives to place on the show would be overwhelmed, or its opposite, underwhelmed, but I found myself somewhere in the middle. Opening with “Hey Jane” from Sweet Hear Sweet Light was a nice choice, introducing us to the back-up singers, but it sort of illustrated the lopsided affair.  First, I hated the stage set-up; it’s just a personal opinion, but a frontman shouldn’t be on the side of the stage, unless he’s sharing vocals with the rest of the band (he wasn’t).  Second, the video work was reminiscent of those odd scenes in Tree of Life was a bit much…I can see how it accompanies the music, but I hated that movie, and I hate those sorts of videos. That being said, I love a lot of the tracks, like the one mentioned above, they just feel like more intimate songs I enjoy on my own.  It could have been ruined by the throngs of people who insisted upon talking for the duration of the evening (I hate you people, really).

But, once “Soul on Fire” was displayed, I got exactly what I expected.  Such a track set the mood for the latter half of the set, giving off more vibrant energy from both the audience and the band; it was the perfect connection.  “Ladies and Gentleman We’re Floating In Space” seemed to be everyone’s favorite of the evening, and you could feel the energy rise in the giant room over at Emos.  Personally, I dug the performance of a jam from the same album, “Come Together,” which definitely had a few people around me singing about “little Johnny.”  This was the half of the set that would lead me to go with being overwhelmed…but I still couldn’t shake the early part of the night.

Yes, it sounded pretty good, at least if you were standing near the soundboard (feel like that room is just too big).  Sure, the band can play, and that’s always exciting because a lot of people can’t pull things off as well in the live setting.  I kept reflecting upon my life as a concert goer/music fanatic, and I thought of Spiritualized in terms of Jeff Mangum (odd comparison I know but bear with me for a second).  I saw Jeff a few weeks ago, nearly cried, felt moved, and considered it one of the best performances by an invidual I’ve ever seen. With Jason Spaceman and crew, a band I love equally as much on record, it just didn’t go over quite as well. Parts of the evening were beautiful and beyond, but parts were lackluster.  Still, I’d go seem them again in a heartbeat, just to catch that emphatic second half of the set.

There are a few more pics at the photo site


  • Ah, I completely agree with this review! I figured there must have been something wrong with me, being disappointed and all. Great photos by Brian by the way.

  • Thanks!

  • same here why do these folk go to gigs to chatter during songs….go home & listen to the record instead nippy as f**K!!!!

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