Spiritualised - Manchester Academy - 1.10.01

Its a brave man who enters the world of Jason Pierce, but its a man who's all the better for it. Jason Pierce's world of love and drugs is a tale of one that has been round since Adam & Eve first walked this earth but when you can articulate it in simple words you often avoid the inevitable - rock & roll suicide. I say this generally as in another 50 years time they will be the next generation of Richeys, Kurts and Ian Curtis who seem so eloquently to explain their outlook on the world but who ultimately can't cope with reality of it all.

Perhaps the audience aren't entirely fitting with Jason's lifestyle, a mixture of 30 something Guardian readers alongside the ever so with-it student crowd, the type of people you would imagine buy each years top 10 essential albums just so that they can keep it real. The music transcends it all and whereas a few years ago it perhaps provoked a discussion of what music can be - now you can actually sit back and enjoy the show. Its shows how much Spiritualised have moved on over the years, transforming those experimental jazz workouts into more cohesive structures - after all there's Mogwai and a host of others if we simply want to fuck up the mainstream.

It seems strange that they choose to leave out most of the recent studio epic in favour of "Ladies and Gentlemen....". You almost get the feeling that this will be par for the course from now on with newer material being saved for one off TV specials or in more luxurious surroundings like the Albert Hall - the sheer scale of the project in itself will make it impossible to bring choirs, string sections and full brass sections into what is usually a convention rock venue. In the place of string drenched epics are brass soaked jazz experiments which ultimately become tiresome though out a period of a 2 hour show. Ultimately Spiritualised fail for the same reason Radiohead will in the live setting. While both bands may astound and change our viewpoint of what music is, the fact alone is not enough to carry off a full live show. As well as an emotional rollercoaster we need the songs sung from the rooftops and until Jason includes the likes of "Stop Your Crying" and "Broken Heart" in the shows they always fall short.

Alex McCann