Spiritualized, Crescent Ballroom, 5/19/12
Zane Gillum Spiritualized at Crescent Ballroom
Saturday, May 19
See also: Spiritualized's Jason Pierce on Sweet Heart Sweet Light
See also: Spiritualized's Jason Pierce on How Amazing The Liver Is
J. Spaceman didn't say a word to the crowd. No small talk, no nervous chatter. Wearing a white tee and white jeans, with his eyes obscured by sunglasses, he stuck to the songs, mostly songs from the band's brand-new record Sweet Heart Sweet Light, though the seven-piece band (sporting two backup singers in white dresses) stretched back to the band's early-'90s roots.
The band opened with a free-sound squall, and then crashed into the epic, VU-gone-Pentecostal "Hey Jane," Spaceman -- also known by his given name Jason Pierce -- lead his band through an hour-and-a-half set of gauzy drug sagas, bluesy hymns, and psychedelic ragas.
Jason P. Woodbury
Fog billowed from the stage as scenes of traffic and the cosmos flashed on a white sheet stretched across the expanse of the stage. A small cross rested under the bridge of Pierce's Telecaster, a nod toward his dual obsessions: pharmaceuticals and religion. His nods to both are gorgeous: the aching "Lord Let It Rain on Me" and "Walking with Jesus" tap into the same secular gospel tap into the same rolling electric piano and white-boy soul boogie as the Stones' "Just Want to See His Face." ("I don't want to talk about Jesus, I just want to see his face.")
The odes to the former were gorgeous too. Sweet Heart Sweet Light was made while Pierce was undergoing chemotherapy, taking the kind of drugs that he didn't want. But older material, the sublime noise and fury of "Electric Mainline" and Laurie Anderson's "Born, Never Asked," and the gorgeous, swooning "Oh Baby" (from Amazing Grace) showcase that the spiritual fascination of Pierce is part of a larger theme: medicinal bliss, love, rapture, his interested in altered states.