Spiritualized + Tracer AMC, Island Arts Centre, Lisburn

Across The Line, Stuart Bailie

They’ve played in grander places before – London’s Albert Hall, Toronto’s Skylon Tower – but Spiritualized know exactly how to trim their sails to fit the occasion. So tonight, at this perfectly bijou venue, the band plays to some well-considered strengths. There are no choirs, and no brass section, but the trade off is intimacy. Jason is just a few feet away from the front of the stage, and the dedicated fans are nearby, gawping and very pleased.

We’ve already heard Tracer AMC tonight, with another cool performance, wreathing the air with their complex-but-sublime sounds. At times, they sounded picky and slight, with Velvets-like grace and even (says he) a few lines that sounded like an Elizabethan madrigal, man. Next moment they went off roaring, the guitars and effects taking off like Satan’s own turbines. Near the end, they had tuning problems with ‘Nineteen’, but quickly recovered and left the stage, exulted.

Spiritualized immediately put down their marker with ‘Electricity’ as the strobes get busy and Jason sits on his stool, intense as ever. There’s little in the way of excess theatre for this two hour show. But that’s hardly pertinent. The real action is in the deeps of those songs, in the cries for love and deliverance and dereliction. Jason summarises the best bits with a recent track, ‘Hold On’, so rarefied that we’re virtually in church.

The Comedown King gets gracious with ‘Lord Let It Rain On Me’, and hallelujah people, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’, which causes the audience to buckle with pleasure. In a few moments, ‘Come Together’ will also reprise the vision of that 1997 series, arguably Jason’s best period. But the narrative also includes ‘I Think I’m In Love’ and back further to ‘Run’, another chance for the band to showcase its collective class.

It ends with a jazz-gospel meltdown, with extra white noise, drones and much sonic fever. Mission accomplished, The Spaceman quits Lisburn for some other, individual orbit.
View this review on the BBC ATL website

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