Pretty Green

A Letter to Mr J. Spaceman, on the anniversary of a spectacular Antipodean Spiritualized concert


Mr J. Spaceman,

A year ago today, I saw Spiritualized. For the first time, and hopefully not the last. The memories are still strong, and the experience still affects me to this day.

I was in the third row, on the left hand side of the stage where you sat. An important detail, as visuals seemed almost as important as audio in this concert, as I’ll come to later. Minus a few mumbled “thank yous”, you didn’t speak the entire concert. There was no crowd banter between songs (thank god the crowd replicated your silence), and still so many eyes, including mine, were transfixed by you. The entire duration of the show, you seemed to be caught in your own world, a self-created musical trance. Staring out through your glasses at nothing, almost completely still, a constant, fixed gaze. Your face was mostly expressionless unless contorted with effort or anguish, though there was not much of the latter – surprising considering the lyrics you sing seem torn from your heart and representative of your agonisingly frail form. You smiled once – for a split second, during Hey Jane. My heart melted and I wished (and still do) that I knew what had made you smile.

The music you played had all the power and grace of a waterfall – a metaphor you used once when describing what it’s like to play your music live. Afterward, someone on Twitter described the concert best as like being “physically assaulted”. The combination of the sounds, the volume and those intense light effects were nothing short of hypnotising. It seemed to me that the entire venue was in a collective state of awe the entire time, equally impressed and shocked at how you can sit there and look so unmoved – literally and figuratively- by the massive sounds you’re making. Those end-of-song, seemingly never-ending purges of intoxicating, repetitive guitar droning, spiralled in distortion, were a physical force against the crowd.

I still remember how Freedom seemed to bring the entire Concert Hall to a standstill. People seemed frozen to their seats during much of the show, due to the sheer volume and beautiful distortion of the music, not to mention the disorienting light effects that crept into every angular slate of the Concert Hall’s intricately formed walls and high ceilings. But this song brought about another type of placation. No longer held still but force, people seemed sedated by intimacy and the desire to focus on and absorb every soft note you sung. Maybe it was just in my mind, though I’m almost certain the beauty of those few minutes were a collective experience of retrospection and appreciation. I do know this song marked the most emotionally potent part of the show for me, anyway. I’m going to admit I was on the brink of tears during this song, and I wasn’t expecting that.

Thank you, Mr Spaceman. For a man of so few spoken words, for a man who moved barely an inch during the whole show, and for a man who played as though the room wasn’t filled with thousands of adoring fans, you are a performer whose performance prowess is a paradox. Relying on no performance gimmicks, your power comes from nothing but the music – your mind – itself.

Thank you, Mr Spaceman, for bearing a little part of your soul to us. The pleasure was all ours, and every moment of it came from you.

Set list:
Here It Comes
Hey Jane
Headin’ for the Top Now
Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
So Long You Pretty Thing
‘A’ Song
Perfect Miracle
Take Your Time
Electric Mainline

Come Down Easy (acoustic)
Walkin’ with Jesus

22-year-old ethical vegan and music fan. Tell her about that cool new band you discovered.

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