Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Spiritualized - Royal Albert Hall October 10 1997 - 1998
Spiritualized is a very heady blend of gospel and psychedelic space rock, and the band has certainly had its ups and downs. The best album they put out is "Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space" in 1997, and the last handful of albums have been sort of scattershot, with a few good songs but so-so on the whole. (It also doesn't help that the band went 5 years between albums, from 2003's "Amazing Grace" to 2008's far superior "Songs In A&E," but that's to be excused since Pierce nearly died from double pneumonia.) "Songs In A&E" is the best stuff they've done in the last decade or so, with the most recent, "Sweet Heart, Sweet Light" being pretty disappointing, but if you really want to know where I think the best stuff they ever did is, you'll find it in a live recording called "Royal Albert Hall October 10 1997," which see Spiritualized playing with a choir, a string section and a four-piece brass section, to give them a glorious transcendence never quite captured on a studio album.
Keep in mind, Pierce sacked most of this band not long after this show, so you won't hear this lineup again. The band said they weren't being paid enough. Contracts were drawn and signed, and shortly after he used those same contracts to dismiss the band. Apparently there was quite the fuss about it in the British music press. Between the constant lineup changes and the health problems that seem to spring up (their drummer had acute leukemia, apparently...), it's something of a wonder that the band is still going, but it's worth picking up "Royal Hall" to hear the band at the peak of their powers, and if that interests you, listen to some of their other stuff and see what catches your fancy.
(Normally I'd have a video here, but they didn't have video recording going at the show, so you just get a YouTube video with music play, the stellar "I Think I'm In Love" from that show.)