Common sense would suggest that the Queen’s Hall’s so-so sound system, faced by a rammy of buoyant revellers clumped together in the dank pit of the Nicolson Street venue, would be of detriment to Spiritualized’s sprawl of post-rock, drone, blues and gospel.
Occasional bursts of feedback aside, the stretched-out soundscapes of Jason Pierce’s ensemble manage to congeal into a decidedly satisfying whole. Spiritualized frequently indulge in extended, trance-inducing crescendos and seemingly spontaneous freakouts which add to a somewhat ramshackle feel, yet the underlying feeling is that the two-hour set has been orchestrated with rather more precision than appearances might suggest.
Spiritualized are more than capable of shredding it with the best of them, as they ably demonstrate on the ear- skelping riffs of Take Me To The Other Side (though it is not officially part of the Spiritualized canon, originating as it does from Pierce’s former outfit Spacemen 3), but their most distinctive material has always had a wonderfully meditative, almost pastoral quality about it.
The gently lapping guitars of Shine A Light is a woozy, head-spinning delight that shows the band at their most irresistibly hypnotic, something they build upon from the off with the insistent pulse of Run.
Country-tinged Life Is A Problem finds them winding things down further as they approach the inevitable encore. Pierce, never the most demonstrative of frontmen, sits to the right of the stage on an office chair, at a right angle to the audience. In spite of his desire to remain relatively peripheral to the rest of the ensemble, his slightly grizzled roar remains the band’s most potent instrument.
Moreover, it’s a credit to Spiritualized that, even after two decades in the business, little of tonight’s show comes off as grandiose or pompous.
Their overt nods to gospel, together with Pierce’s direct references to suffering and redemption, could be a recipe for hand-wringing arrogance elsewhere, but as Oh Happy Day closes out the extended encore, tonight feels like a joyous celebration of a band still at the peak of its powers.