In Spiritualized, Jason Pierce uses minimalism for maximum effect. Most of the songs during the band's 130-minute performance Friday night at the Theater of Living Arts built on a one- or two-chord guitar riff, but they became majestic, inspiring monuments.
Pierce's roots are in psychedelic rock (going back to the '80s, when he called himself J. Spaceman in the British band Spacemen 3) and in the Velvet Underground (the new Sweet Heart Sweet Light and its lead track, "Hey Jane," jumble the titles of VU's White Light White Heat and "Sweet Jane"), but he's added to them a healthy, healing dose of gospel's redemptive power and sly allusions to the innocent sounds of doo wop and early '60s girl groups.
Although Spiritualized often performs with orchestras and full gospel choirs, as they did at New York's Radio City Music Hall two years ago when they recreated their 1997 masterwork, Ladies and Gentlemen … We Are Floating In Space, the TLA show was lean and focused: five impassive players and two backing vocalists, often shrouded in dry ice or obscured by black-and-white video of abstract patterns.
Pierce barely acknowledged the crowd: He and lead guitarist Anthony Foster flanked the stage, facing one another instead of the audience, Pierce in trademark sunglasses. The minimal stage fuss added to the hypnotic qualities of the music: these were songs to get lost in, whether they were quiet, exploratory, and modal ("Rated X") or loud, bruising, and cathartic ("Come Together").