Spiritualized tore a black hole into Brooklyn Steel (review, setlist)
Space-rock legends Spiritualized‘s current tour in support of their fantastic 2018 release And Nothing Hurt touched-down at NYC’s Brooklyn Steel on Wedensday night (4/17) for a tremendous “evening with” style performance that had the packed room absolutely transfixed. The band was more stripped down personnel-wise than their show at Kings Theatre last October, but with three guitarists, keys, drums, bass, and a three-piece outfit of back-up singers, their sound was as dense and delicate as ever.
Though I haven’t seen them as many times as the legions other of super-fans out there may have, I have seen them at Bowery, the Apollo Theater, Irving Plaza, North Six, Radio City, and other joints in these United States, and I can say that their legacy as one of the most compelling live acts around is still firmly intact. With no opener, they kicked into gear right at 8:30 PM; for an old shut-in who hates going out on a school night, it doesn’t get much better than that. Things began with a very truncated, mellower version of “Hold On” from 2003’s Amazing Grace which segued perfectly into a blazing rendition of “Come Together” from 1997’s Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. Screaming guitars, gut-busting bass riffs, and soaring background vocals melded with stage-wide psychedelic projections and lighting arrangements to engulf the entire room. After that they reeled in the energy with a gorgeous, delicate performance of “Shine a Light” from 1992’s Lazer Guided Melodies which is incidentally the first Spiritualized song I ever heard and to this day carries a weight of personal sacredness. Although this particular tune starts to launch itself into a bombast of light and sound about four minutes in, during the earlier quiet bits you could hear a pin drop. (It’s one the first times a quiet song has been played in a big venue in NYC where some drunk dipshit didn’t yell something inane to shatter the mood.) This was followed by reliably fantastic and mesmerizing performances of classics “Stay With Me”, “Soul on Fire”, “She Kissed Me (and it Felt Like a Hit)” and, finally, “Broken Heart” which, with its almost yearning harmonica accompaniment, almost had your boy Klaus on the express train to Weeping Sap USA.
This seven-song opening sequence was the last we’d hear of the classics until the encore as, after “Broken Heart,” they proceeded to play And Nothing Hurt in its entirety. A fantastic continuation of their canon, And Nothing Hurt is crammed with sonic hooks and motifs that are undeniably sprung from the Spiritualized pocket, and oftentimes I hear very clear call-backs to previous Spiritualized classics. That’s not a subtle way of saying it’s derivative of past works. I’m just saying I hear echoes of the past nestled in there and I flipping love it. However, as is often the case with lots of other bands, the live experience of these new songs made the album versions feel anemic. “A Perfect Miracle” and “I’m Your Man” sounded so much looser and rockier, while “On the Sunshine” completely knocked my socks off. The same goes for the rest of the live versions of the album tracks. The delicate parts felt more delicate, the frenetic rock and roll parts felt so massive.
I’d say the only part of the experience that is nagging at me a bit is that the setlist was nearly identical to the Kings Theater setlist from October 2018, the only difference being the addition of ripper “She Kissed Me (and it Felt Like a Hit).” Having already presented the NYC audience with the new album in its entirety live, it would have been amazing if this second NYC appearance had more of a “greatest hits and a few new ones” vibe. I realize that changing up a setlist that you’ve been touring extensively with is difficult to pull off (unless you’re Guided By Voices), but with a back catalog as deep as theirs, I would have loved to hear more of a survey of their works. But these are petty grumblings; this show was an absolute experience in aural gorgeousity from start to finish and my body was covered in goosebumps for the the entirety of the show. But I will say to anyone who asks that, yes, I do wish it was a larger survey of their catalogue.
Setlist and a few Instagram videos are below.
SETLIST: Spiritualized @ Brooklyn Steel 4/17/2019
Shine a Light
Stay With Me
Soul on Fire
She Kissed Me (It Felt Like a Hit)
And Nothing Hurt:
A Perfect Miracle
I’m Your Man
Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go
On the Sunshine
The Morning After
Sail on Through
So Long You Pretty Thing
Out of Sight
Oh Happy Day
Hold On (reprise)