In Which We Head To The Apollo


by Alex Carnevale


live at the Apollo on November 16th, 2007

In a music landscape as varied our current one, it is difficult to think of hard geniuses. J. Spaceman, Jason Pierce to his friends, is one of them.

Jason’s first act was Spaceman 3, the fruits of a collaboration between himself and Pete Kember. Jason’s songs and arrangements were noticeably better than Kember’s. When Spiritualized was finally born, Pierce’s talent began to show. Spaceman 3 is a great band, and I’m sure they must have been fascinating live, especially while taking heroin.

From the Guardian piece:

Today, the band have a mythical reputation and one Spacemen 3 website claims them as “one of the most important bands ever.” Perhaps understandably, Pierce’s memories are more prosaic. “We cleared halls,” he recalls. “We made a poster for one show that read: ‘Velvets? Stooges? Stones?’ We thought if we put those references on it, someone would be walking around and say: ‘Yeah, I’ve got to have me a bit of that tonight.’ One person turned up. It never got to this mythical rewrite where we suddenly took off.”

don’t need much but I ain’t satisfied right now

Pierce found a lot of inspiration in African-American music, making his appearance on Friday night at the historic Apollo Theater all the more fascinating. Of course, there’s been a lot of talk lately about the lack of African-American influence in music from people who just aren’t good listeners.

If I want to hear a white person bitch about white racism, I’ll read my own blog, thank you. Then again, I’m not trying to tell people what kind of art they should be making, these doofuses were. People will be influenced by what they are influenced by. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.


Some of the earliest bands I got into were bands like the Cramps or the Gun Club or the Fleshtones. They informed people about music, they said ‘check out the Count Five, check out Hazel Adkins and Ronnie Hawkins, check out all this wigged-out rockabilly nonsense, have a look at this whole whacked-out world of music.’ And the Gun Club also, y’know, reading between the lines of their songs they were saying to check out Robert Johnson and all this primitive blues stuff.

2000 years of looking down the barrel of a gun

“Hold On” — Spiritualized (mp3)

“Medication” — Spiritualized (mp3)

“Shine a Light” — Spiritualized (mp3)

“Rock and Roll” — Spiritualized (mp3)

Until some fun-minded person who was on the scene writes the real history of what happened between Jason Pierce and Spiritualized member Kate Radley, we can only gather bits and piece. The collapse of that relationship fueled the intensity of the 1998’s Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, one of the greatest albums ever put together by a person. At times ballbreaking sentimental (the glorious “Broken Heart”, the melodic “Cool Waves”) and at times as raucous as previous efforts (insta-concert fave “I Think I’m In Love”), it kinda made sadness fun.


I hated the idea that bands kind of stood up and said ‘this is our music, we wrote it in a vacuum, it’s just us.’ No music ever happens like that — everything’s evolutionary, everybody gets to hear everything else. And bands still say this, or they come up with dumb lines like ‘we don’t listen to other people’s music when we’re in the studio because we don’t wanna be influenced’ and you can spot every influence straight away.


EDGE Fair enough. Do you ever see Richard Ashcroft around and if so are there any hard feelings?
SPACEMAN I haven’t seen him in ages. I see Kate [Radley, ex lover and Keyboard player – now married to Dicky Ashcroft] quite often, she came to the last show in London. What’s with all of these tabloid questions?

At the time, Kate Radley left the lead singer of my favorite band for the lead singer in my second favorite band, I had to wonder if perhaps she was destined for me. I should probably write a stalker-ish fan letter, and you know, find out.

I’ve got a little knowledge and I’m about ready now

Pierce begins the Acoustic Mainlines shows with a new song, “Sitting on Fire.” It’s the gospel witticisms of his last album, 2003’s Amazing Grace with all the guitar licks and backup singers you can handle. Pierce has been mixing and matching “Fire,” “Soul”, “Lord”, “Cry” and “Down” on tracks for the last ten years. He perfected this mix with 2001’s Let It Come Down, featuring my favorite Pierce song, “Stop Your Crying.”

“Lay It Down” — Spiritualized (mp3)

“I Didn’t Mean to Hurt You (instrumental)” — Spiritualized (mp3)

“Anything More (instrumental)” — Spiritualized (mp3)

every now and then I get the urge to drive around

He first broke into his catalogue with a rockin’ version of “Cool Waves” building to the usual crescendo. It’s the least creative use of the violins, but his lively arrangement of “Amen” more than made up for it.

Pierce nearly always gives a somewhat perfunctory performance. He’s an OCD studio freak, for a few albums he played most of the instruments himself.

The band’s extraordinarily successful Live At the Royal Albert Hall two-disc set stayed on the charts for awhile and really was the most kickass music in the world at that time. “Medication,” which is practically a Pierce standard so much now that I imagines he hates playing it, didn’t make it onstage, perhaps in deference to the fact that young singers of color shouldn’t be singing so forwardly about the uses of alcohol and drugs.

Before the show we saw Devendra Banhart and one of his boyfriends taking geeky pictures of themselves. “We’re in the Apollo. We did it.”

A screened letter about brain happiness being a function of serotonin held the stage before Jason went on. He’s had his drug problems to be sure, and suffered from pneumonia last year. I’m curious how much of the audience was familiar with this story. There were a shitload of burnouts there, which was to be expected. I can basically recognize another Spiritualized geek when I see one.

Of his new songs, the definite highlight was, “Soul on Fire.” I have tried desperately to find an mp3 of this track, and my search continues you. If you have it, give.

The highlight of the performance was “Anything More” leading into a raucous four part version of “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space.”

Jason was recently involved in making a few songs for the soundtrack to Harmony Korine’s Mister Lonely. That’s very adult of him. He has a daughter now, too. He prefers his privacy. It might be fun to see his talent lovely applied to a full film, or even a massive, sprawling double-album. While his consistency is intense, it would be neat to see him let loose a little. The Acoustic Mainlines series threatened to open that door to something different, and while Jason’s performance on the whole tried to be a happy one, this album looks to be more of the same from an artist who has perfected an unnameable genre of sorrow.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

Nothing hurts you like the pain of someone so close to you if I could take it on myself you know I sure would without a doubt


“Feel So Sad” — Spiritualized (mp3)

“The Power and The Glory” — Spritualized (mp3)

I’ll give it up for you but let me finish what I got I love you now but lord you know it sure does take a lot I’ll always love you honey but I can’t be what I’m not

“Lord Let It Rain on Me (acoustic)” — Spiritualized (mp3)

“The Ballad of Richie Lee” — Spiritualized (mp3)


Molly took you under her wing.

Anti-semitism and its discontents.

Forget about those jealous hoes.


4 thoughts on “In Which We Head To The Apollo

  1. Thank you for R.A.H. Shine A Light!!!!
    By far my favorite spiritualized track, and in my top 10 all time songs (w intro). I’ve seen them three times, and this song reminds me of the times.
    Please, you can’t take it off the blog…I’m pathetically begging!

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