Spiritualized – The Troubadour; Los Angeles, CA
When your favorite (active) band in the world announces a show at a nearby 400-person venue, you have no choice but to obtain a ticket. On their last several stops in Los Angeles, Spiritualized have played The Orpheum (capacity 1,976), the theater at the Ace Hotel (capacity 1,600), the Desert Daze festival in Joshua (which I think holds somewhere from 5-10k people), Coachella (massive), the Wiltern Theater (1,850) and the Hollywood Bowl (17,500). To see Spiritualized in a 400-person club is unfathomably rare. When I saw them at The Echo back in 2008 I assumed that would be my last chance to see J. Spaceman and Co. in such an intimate setting. I might have been up close at the House Of Blues in Vegas, but that’s quite a bit bigger than the Echo or the Troubadour. All of this is a longwinded way of saying that when tickets went on sale for the Troubadour show, they sold out almost immediately…and I missed my opportunity to get tickets.
As great as that would be for my first blog post in a long time, obviously that wasn’t the end of the story. As a sort of successful (ish?) guy in his mid-30s, I decided that this was an opportunity too rare to pass up. So I set an alert on StubHub to email me the moment a ticket went on sale for less than $200. The first ten tickets offered for sale on the site were listed for between $350-$450, so I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to see the show. Alas, maybe ten days before the show, prices started to drop. Perhaps sellers were nervous about being unable to move their tickets, and it’s not like making 3x what you paid for a ticket was a bad deal…so eventually someone offered a ticket for $185 and I purchased it within 30 seconds of being emailed my price alert.
The ticket and the Troubadour website stated that the show started at 8 pm, so I raced over to the venue after work on Friday. It wasn’t until I arrived that I noticed a short line outside the entrance to the club. Apparently, the doors opened at 8 pm, and the band was due to hit the stage an hour later. So it turned out I had arrived early. Upon entering the performance space, I was given two options. I could try to run up to the balcony to find a seat, or I could claim a spot near the front of the stage. The balcony would provide better sound, and the front of the stage would provide more intimacy. After about two minutes of debate, I decided I’d head for the front of the stage. I might never have another chance to see the band up close like this.
Other than the annoying dude screaming “Yeah!” and “Jay-son!” at the end of every song, and the people trying to shove phones over my shoulder to get better pictures, it was a great show. There was an awkward moment in the middle of the set (after Broken Heart) where the band walked off stage for a minute without an explanation, but other than that it was a tight, focused performance. If anything, Jason Pierce seemed to turn his back more and more away from the crowd as the set went on as if to shy away from all the cameras. I guess there were a lot of people not adhering to the “no flash” policy? Oh, also the guy who was screaming in between songs kept taking video from all these weird angles where he’d basically put his camera next to Pierce’s foot or prop it against his mic stand. Not cool.
I may never again get to see them play “Cop Shoot Cop” in a live setting, but I have to admit getting to hear “Out Of Sight” almost every time they play now is wonderful. Whether they’ve got 31 people on stage – like at the Orpheum – or nine people on stage – like at the Troubadour – some of their songs just always sound massive. At the Troubadour the “stripped down” band consisted of three guitarists (Pierce included), a keyboard player, a bassist, drummer, and three backup singers. This club version of the band (ha!) made “Broken Heart” sound fantastic, even without the horns and strings. Like every post-Songs In A&E album, the songs from the new album keep growing on me with repeated listens. When Sweet Heart Sweet Light came out I was “meh” about it, but came to love “Life Is A Problem,” “Mary,” and “So Long You Pretty Thing.” When And Nothing Hurt came out I was “meh” about it, but have since come to love “Damaged,” “The Prize” and “Sail On Through.”
It’s hard to think about what my favorite Spiritualized show ever is, or how I would rank all the times I’ve seen them, because I’ve been fortunate enough to see so many different types of shows. How does one compare getting to hear “I Think I’m In Love” in Las Vegas — with everyone in the crowd screaming along to the “I think that I’m a winner baby / Probably Las Vegas” line — to seeing them at The Echo (a 350-person club) the night after they opened for Nick Cave at the Hollywood Bowl? How can I compare anything to that first time I saw them opening for Radiohead in 1998 when I had no clue what I was watching/hearing but knew that it was special? I guess I’m just lucky to have had all these opportunities over the last…ugh, 20+ years. God dammit. I’m so old.
Shine A Light
Stay With Me
Soul On Fire
She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit)
A Perfect Miracle
I’m Your Man
Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go
On The Sunshine
The Morning After
Sail On Through
So Long You Pretty Thing
Out Of Sight
Oh Happy Day
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