Review and Photos by Tony BonyataDespite an efficient psychedelic light show of Pink Floyd on a tight budget, British space rockers Spiritualized descended on Milwaukee last night for a trippy, swirling performance that was musically as large as a giant pig dirigible looming over Battersea Power Station.
Band auteur Jason "J Spaceman" Pierce, led his 7-piece band, which featured a frontal assault of guitars and incorporated everything from harmonica, xylophone and timpani, through 14 numbers that swelled and pumped, oozed and floated and, at times, went on just a bit too long for their own good. Considering that this is a man that, as Pierce himself has put it, 'takes drugs to make music to take drugs to,' it's no wonder that some of the songs meandered a bit. But when the band was on, well, that was an entirely different story.
Opening with an abundance of fuzzed out guitars on the trance inducing number "Electricity" Pierce, clad in sliver lame trousers and tousled Syd Barrett-like mop of hair, delivered both vocal and guitar lines without ever acknowledging his audience of predominately long haired, laid-back twentysomethings. In fact, other than musically, Pierce never once personally connected with the crowd, which seemed to put more distance between artist and fan.
Surprisingly, very little of the show focused on last year's magnum opus of trippy pop Let It Come Down. One of the reasons for this might have been because the album incorporated the rich talent of over a hundred orchestral musicians and gospel choir. The lack of the swelling strings and hallelujah harmonies, however, weren't missed on numbers such as "On Fire," "Out of Sight" or the melancholy "Don't Just Do Something" as the band slowly constructed their own sonic wall of sound that worked perfectly on stage.
While the use of psychedelic stimulants seemed almost necessary to groove along with the extended jams of "Shine A Light," the high octane crescendo of "Walking With Jesus," as well as the immense inner power of "Come Together" and the ending psychedelic freakout of "Take Me To The Other Side," with it's Texas chainsaw guitars, tribal beats and blinding strobes, left the entire crowd spent with jaws agape, whether they were all on the same plane or not.
The biggest disappointment of the evening , however, had nothing to do with Spiritualized's performance, but rather the last minute cancellation of opening act Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, who left the end of the tour to perform for British television. It might have been a good thing for the flow of the evening, though, as BRMC's own brand of atmospheric hard rock may have drastically changed the tone of the headliner's show from lush space rock to an act that might have needed a little more muscle than mescaline to keep the momentum of the evening's opener going.
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