"Electricity" confirmed his connections to the past. Its remorselessly crescendoing noise was The Beatles' `A Day in the Life', stretched and savaged. The band were invisible, but for a kaleidoscope swirl. Like The Chemical Brothers (watching tonight), Spiritualized were attempting a future begun in part by psychedelic explorations in this very hall. Like techno's most open-minded champions, Pierce was seeking the transcendence he desired in ancient ashes.
But as the night wore on, faith in the properties of that music began to slip. As tune after tune floated then crashed, its lack of easily-seen players, its sheer repetition, began to grate. Pierce's belief in his music simply wasn't enough. A sign was required.
The Lord came on cue. The presence of a gospel choir at Spiritualized's last London show was treated as camp by most of a crowd unused to religion. The divide between Pierce's personal, art-induced spirituality and Christianity was the drama on this night, too - the one which saved it. "Come Together" was the point at which God and Pierce met. In the song's protracted middle, Pierce's spaced proclamations countered gospel certainties in an inspired give and take, and you wondered just what context the choir thought they were singing in, whether their faith had been coopted in the name of rock'n'roll.
But as the strange momentum between the factions on the stage built, all thoughts of conflict vanished. The choir were the needed, human balance to the band's abstraction from events. By the moment in "Cop Shoot Cop" when the choir called forth the slave spirituals at rock'n'roll's root, just as Spiritualized's lights blinded the crowd, criticism had been shattered. The derangement of the senses which Spiritualized have sought in drugs and records had reached the stage. Their last act was to release white balloons from the roof. They left to the sound of their popping by a crowd overcome by childish glee. Everything had become unfamiliar, and defenceless joy was the result. We were all floating free, for a few strange minutes.
Nick HastedReuse content