Back from the brink of madness, Jason Pierce finally realises the opulent drama and ambitious scale of his best album yet...
Ben Willmott
11:25 24th September 2018

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The live arena is saturated with bands who made their names in the 90s at the moment, but don't make the mistake of lumping Spiritualized in with them. Whereas most of his colleagues from that era are back playing live to stoke nostalgia and re-live their finest hours, Jason 'Spaceman' Pierce – who effectively is Spiritualized - is here because he's just released his best album yet.

The sold out audience seems to agree too. They're certainly glad to hear the smattering of tracks from the band's landmark second album 'Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space' that the set opens with, a heart rending rendition of 'Stay With Me' among the highlights.

But this proves to be a mere hors d'oeuvre before the main course that is a start-to-finish performance of the new LP 'And Nothing Hurt'. When most so called heritage bands drop even one track from their latest effort, it's usually a cue for a mass exodus to the bar. But the massive cheers that greet its opening rack, the magical and fragile 'A Perfect Miracle', indicate that tonight will be somewhat different.

Even though economics forced Pierce to play and record almost the entire album himself in his East London, he's remains a man of ambitious, grand visions. Bearing that process in mind, a process which he said almost drove him to madness, it's amazing to see the ideas that germinated in his head finally realised. He's really pushed the boat out too. As well as the expanded band line up – we're talking two extra guitarists and two drummers, keyboards and bass as well as the seated Pierce – there are sizeable string and brass sections and the London Community Choir fully decked out in spotless white cassocks.

Add to that a light show that Pink Floyd would be envious of, billowing dry ice and the illuminated huge disco mirrorball dangling from the top of the proscenium arch, and you have a spectacular in both audio and visual terms. No wonder then that the seated audience is at times so moved by the experience that they feel the need to shout messages of encouragement - “genius” and “you're a national treasure, Jason” among them – or simply stand up suddenbly and hold arms up to heavens.

Understandable, really, when the songs are as good as this. The cracked space country of 'I'm Your Man', in its tipsy ¾ time signature, sounds particularly glorious, as does 'Let's Dance' with its time-weathered melancholy. The true tour de force, though, is 'The Morning After', with its chugging, Velvets-style momentum and references to the NHS and suicide and its unforgettable vocal refrain of “come on, come on, come on, we're living in the modern world”. With Jason shredding his fretboard from top to bottom and the choir echoing the scorching harmonica line, it's a moment that appears to have descended straight from heaven.

That song's lyrics say it all really. Jason Pierce has faced off madness and the temptation to become a museum piece act living out the glories of the past. Come on, come on, come, we're living in the modern world for sure, and the soundtrack has never sounded better.

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Photo: Niall Green