[NOTE: This is the second in my series of three posts dealing with the concert that took place at the Hollywood Bowl on September 17th. Thoughts on Cat Power’s performance can be found here. My review of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds will be forthcoming.]
It only took about 20 minutes for the second band of the evening to start their set. That band was Spiritualized, a group I’ve followed for well over a decade, but had never bothered to see live.
Jason Pierce (aka J. Spaceman) came out wearing an ill-fitting white t-shirt, jeans, and a gigantic pair of sunglasses. He looked out at the audience and then turned 90 degrees to his right, so that he was facing something or someone off-stage. He stayed in that unusual position all night.
Spiritualized started off their set with a version of “Amazing Grace”. The two backup singers really carried that song. It was little more than an intro, though. After a couple minutes, it morphed into “You Lie You Cheat”. That’s when I first realized that Spiritualized is an incredibly loud band. The drummer beat the hell out of his kit, and it almost seemed like the other members of the band were competing to see who could make the most noise up there. Just when it started to get overwhelming, though, they’d pull back, find the melody again, and get quiet. I like the rip-roaring Spiritualized, but I’ve always thought their best moments were the quiet ones. They can make some beautiful music.
Speaking of beautiful music, there were quite a few impressive moments from Spiritualized’s set, but my personal favorite was getting to hear “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” from 1997’s album of the same name. That’s been one of my favorite songs for over a decade. The best part was that in a live setting, the band was able to incorporate the additional lyrics from “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. Those lyrics, which were such an important part of the original song, had to be remixed out of the album version due to objections from Elvis Presley’s estate. It was worth flying all the way out to California just to hear Spaceman sing:
All I want in life’s a little bit of love to take the pain away, getting strong today, a giant step each day…
while the backup singers were simultaneously belting out:
Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can’t help falling in love with you…
I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of shit that brings tears to my eyes.
But enough about beauty…let’s talk bombast. The show ended with a great rock and roll moment. During a cacophony of noise, Spaceman smashed his guitar into an amp and then tossed it across the stage before storming off in a huff. I’ve seen lots of performers act like they’re going to toss their equipment, but I believe this was the first time any of them actually followed through on the threat. Like a wheelchair or a turtle, a guitar isn’t meant to be airborne. It’s a disconcerting sight.
Here’s the setlist:
Setlist: Amazing Grace–>You Lie You Cheat/Shine a Light/Cheapster/Soul on Fire/Walking With Jesus/Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space/Death, Take Your Fiddle/Good Dope-Good Fun/Come Together
Unlike the Cat Power list, that one is complete and error-free.