Driving down Hollywood Blvd, doing my best to find parking as the line continued to grow outside the venue, I could feel my anticipation for that elusive Spiritualized brand of euphoria mounting. There were swarms of people just like me, thrilled attendees patiently awaiting the grandiose rock ‘n roll gospel trip bubbling inside the Fonda Theatre. This wasn’t just any show, this was a Coachella off-shoot for those grounded in good ol’ Los Angeles for the weekend, Spiritualized purists only.
A Spiritualized set is a healing affair. J Spaceman has a unique way of reminding us of a deep pain inside we thought was healed or slowly forgotten, only to be recovered in the effervescent melancholy of his psych rock church. Digging deep into the shadow side of the Jungian caverns in your mind, this special 4/20 set paved the way for true soul healing not yet manifested. ‘Shine A Light’ (off of Lazer Guided Melodies) bathed the crowd in forgiveness, feeling like you hit the colorful stained-glass chapel, harmonizing vocals rising up, slide guitar stretching the soul, and organ sounds soothing your weary spirit from life’s highs and lows.
The crowd visually sways and appreciates the spectacle, in awe that we are celebrating 4/20 together getting musical doses of dopamine in Fonda-loads. Weaving in and out of the crowd and checking out the show from a birds eye view for ‘Here it Comes (The Road Again)’ (off of And Nothing Hurt). Couples swaying in each other’s arms and long time Spiritualized fans bobbed ritualistically with hands above their head as if to take in the sonic waves through their hands to heal. Pulsating rock ’n’ roll wisdom rumbling and rattling the walls of The Fonda, ‘Let It Bleed (For Iggy)’ (off of Everything Was Beautiful) was a Spiritualized hug of sweet nostalgia with romantic melancholy revived into a spectacle of triumphant horns, gospel harmonies, and Jason Pierce breathy vocals rising above it all.
Spiritualized’s melancholy hits differently with J Spaceman bravely capturing that “exploration of the collective suffocating sadness” that most are experiencing with the signs of the times. Playing songs off “Everything Was Beautiful” “And Nothing Hurt” mostly, Spiritualized wrapped us up in sonic waves of emotionally torn spirits reflecting back at us the trauma of the past two years. For those who tapped into the moment and realized how fortunate we are to be gathered together after lockdowns, it was an overwhelming experience after what feels like a lifetime to witness Spiritualized healing. “Damaged” started up (off of And Nothing Hurt) with a wavy guitar slide ringing out and warbly J Spaceman vocals gave us a sense that things will be alright through the muck. I feel like I have not fallen far enough into dark depths to truly grasp the layers of Spiritualized, but I am still searching through his vast soundscapes. Coming to the end of the set, J Spaceman brought it back with rock ’n’ roll attitude in building up melodies of “Come Together” (off of “Ladies and Gentleman We are Floating In Space”) to feel our collective sadness, release it into the ether, shake our souls awake, dust ourselves off, and get ready for the world outside ready to face it all.
Words and Photos by: Grace Dunn