Spiritualized review – drone-rock’s dark magus orchestrates a transcendent wig-out

Hammersmith Apollo, London
By turns poignant and defiant, the soulful rock’n’roll wastrel Jason Pierce turns up the feedback and faces down his mortality – flanked by a horn section and a gospel choir

The air of all-too-keenly felt mortality that coils throughout Spiritualized’s latest album, And Nothing Hurt, is no mere affectation. Once the seemingly invincible leader of Spacemen 3 – drone-rock hedonists who proudly “took drugs to make music to take drugs to” – Spiritualized major-domo Jason Pierce has of late weathered near-fatal bouts of liver disease and double pneumonia. He has even intimated that And Nothing Hurt marks a last hurrah for the group.

So when he walks on stage in darkness – following after the rest of his five-piece band, full string and horn sections, a tympanist and a gospel choir – takes a seat stage-right, hunches over his guitar in front of a music stand and croaks a mournful Hold On in a voice frail and sunken, it is hard not to fear that tonight we are witnessing his final throes. The lyrics underscore the elegiac tenor: “Hold on to those you hold dear. Death cannot take what you’ve already lost.”

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