The Spaceman is still on fire.
Having been fortunate enough to witness the Spiritualized acoustic show already, there were no doubts about the ability of Jason Pierce and his backing members to pull off a Main Stage show but there was a few grumbles amongst the crowd about whether the show would live up to its placing on the bill. By the end of the set, the only grumble was the fact that set wasnt longer as the band pulled off a thoroughly enjoyable set of classic tracks and even managed to involve the crowd in a few singsongs, which many people would not have predicted.
The early part of the set did focus on some of the slower or earlier moments in Pierces back catalogue (and a cover of a track by Saturday night performer Daniel Johnston) and from the start, the spiritual side of Spiritualized was at the forefront, with many references to the Lord coming through. The lyrics of Pierce have always had that conflict between good and evil and the struggle of man at its axis and this set brought the attention onto that type of output. It must be mentioned though that during 'Lord, Let It Rain On Me', the crowd, whilst delighted at hearing the song, were no doubt praying that the request would not be granted during the course of the evening.
The backing singers really come to the fore in their Gospel tinged moments and when they launch into the "Wise Men Say...." section that appears in 'Ladies and Gentlemen we are floating in space', the song takes off and it carries Victoria Park with it. There was an audible sense of wow as this section rolled around the audience and the band seemed as awed at the end of the song as the crowd was.
'I think I'm In Love' crept up on the crowd and it took a few lines for it to sink in, and its looping feel on the album was replaced by a chiming guitar strum but the song still managed to convey all the same emotions but carrying a more uplifting feel, which again, the strings and Gosepl singers couldnt fail to engineer.
A song like 'Broken Heart' is never going to be hailed as a feel-good festival song and whilst some may have felt its inclusion may have ruined the party somewhat, there was still an honesty about the song that was pleasing and a vocal delivery from Pierce which shone. Still encased behind sunglassed and sitting side-on to the audience, the Spaceman is never going to try and win any frontman of the year awards but he can rightly point to a back-catalogue of songs that are adored and a consistency of live and recorded performance throughout the past few decades. At the end of the set, it was pleasing to see Pierce genuinely moved by the reception he and his band had received and the applause that rang between stage and crowd was well merited.
Closing the set with 'Oh Happy Day', the words, like so many of the set, had a Gospel background but this time, the emphasis was all on the positive and of the good things that we should be thankful for and it was with this mind that the majority of the crowd would look back on the entertainment and realise what it may have lacked in party atmosphere, it more than delivered than talent, skill and excellent performances.