Spiritualized is a fluid space rock band. All of those words are in the right place, but the only thing that justifies their use is the group’s 20-year history of creating bizarre, blissed-out, off-kilter yet deeply uplifting beats – and if you’re looking for a show this Saturday, they’re playing the Masonic in San Francisco.
Spiritualized’s membership is a movable feast of talent, constantly changing from one record to the next, all orbiting the single central point of singer and composer Jason Pierce since Spiritaulized emerged from the chrysalis of late-80’s psychedelic experimentalists Spacemen 3, in the rock scene of early 90’s England.
Back in their initial days, the band released covers and singles consistently for around two years, until their first LP Lazer Guided Melodies came out in 1992. A tour followed, in collaboration with Scottish alt-rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain, before the release of another album, Pure Phase. It was their third album, 1997’s Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, that smashed all records and made zeitgeist-seizing an excitement again, rather than a cliché. Named by the UK’s venerable NME magazine as Album of the Year, LAGWAFIS (as no-one called it) enjoyed both commercial success and critical acclaim, with the kind of late-90s electronica which it’s easy to forget now, but which was, like Massive Attack’s 1998 masterpiece Mezzanine, groundbreaking in a way which has stood the test of time. Bringing together influences as diverse as the London Community Gospel Choir and blues legend Dr. John, the album languidly laid its own road, and in many ways has yet to be surpassed.
The band’s latest record, And Nothing Hurt, dropped last year through Fat Possum Records in the United States and Bella Union in the United Kingdom, after a siz-year hiatus. The lyrics to the tracks on And Nothing Hurt touch upon subjects including the constraints and pressures of being a grownup, the concerns that come with age, and a look back on life in general. It’s heavy, but with the same winsome sense of hope which has always marked Spiritualized’s music.
It’s a broad piece of work, but when you pay close attention to the tunes, you see that they’re beautifully composed. While And Nothing Hurt doesn’t have all the flamboyance of LAGWAFIS, it’s a landmark in the band’s career nonetheless, and it may (whisper it) be their last work with Pierce in the lead.
A couple of years before release, Pierce admitted that And Nothing Hurt may be his last work, saying that he feared repeating himself – but a month later, he confessed that another album may well be on the way. We’ll never know if it will, but a Spiritualized show is worth a trip.
Because Spiritualized doesn’t plan on laying low at all. They’re busy performing live in venues across the country, and on the 30th of March, they’re going to light up the stage at The Masonic. Whatever they plan to do on stage, with Jason Pierce’s musicianship and the band’s camaraderie, it’s set to be sheer magic. See you there!
Spiritualized plays the Masonic on March 30, 2019 // Show 8:00 p.m. // Doors 7:00 p.m.
Photos courtesy of Press Here Publicity