Real Live Action



Commodore Ballroom; September 13, 2008

Review By Freddy Harder

Not looking worse for wear, considering a fairly recent brush with the reaper, Jason Pierce led his seven-piece band of spiritual conduits through a career-spanning set at the Commodore. And with the understated ease of someone who has seen the light beckoning and decided to come back down, clearly his work amongst the living is far from finished.

Even with the noticeable absence of horns and a string section (not to mention maybe a hundred more people in the congregation), the night was complete. The trademark white light sonic freak-outs were there, as too were the waves of feedback and spectral washes of synth noise, inevitably breaking down to a simply strummed acoustic guitar only to spiral back up to the heavens. With gospel harmonies supplied by two visions in white, and lyrics about the Lord, drugs, loss, redemption and love, everything bled together to create the expected Spiritualized experience. The stark, semi-circular stage arrangement (which in a strange way resembled a set of headphones) and the subdued yet otherworldly lighting scheme worked in unison with the dense, warm sounds to multiply the emotional force that is released when shamelessly baring one’s demons and delusions to the world.

All grandiose and religious metaphors aside, it surely wasn’t the second coming, it was merely a rock ’n’ roll show, albeit one with true heart and soul. And it gave the Vancouver audience a chance to do what we do best, kind of just stand there, feet rooted to the floor, swaying, with crooked little smiles on our faces. Amazing grace, indeed. Amen.