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Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club opening for Spiritualized, Gothic Theatre, April 11, 2002:
This is another one where the excitement was over the opening act, not the headliner. BRMC delivered the goods and offered promise of a band worth watching down the road. And they're quickly developing a following; there were several fans right at the front of the stage eager to see the punkish Brit trio of Peter Hayes, Robert Turner, and Nick Jago.
Whatever happened to my rock 'n' roll? It's alive and well in BRMC. Right down to the drummer (Jago), with a face lost behind a mop of hair. There's something about a rock band in black leather that simply makes so much aesthetic sense. It would be great to see these guys play CBGB's.
Of course, the vast majority of the crowd was there for Spiritualized. One guy asked me if I knew if they were going to be stripped down. It's interesting how bands all have their die hards. I had to tell the guy I didn't know. If it had been a U2 concert, I would've had a far more intelligent and comprehensive answer.
As for Spiritualized, the funniest thing about them was the slogan on the keyboardist's T-shirt, "The industrial use of semen will revolutionize the human race." Even that was funny only in a social commentary / propaganda kind of way. They take their music seriously and they don't go out of their way to make the audience feel welcome - or even needed. Little was done to engage the audience, aside from a wave and a thumbs up at the end of the night. The band chose to stay planted behind their mikes rather than move about in a display of spontaneity; of course, the stage of the Gothic is rather small and with all their equipment, there wasn't much space in which to roam.
Another observation: They're all so gosh-darned clean cut, except for the lead singer. And they kind of look like they're going through the motions as they play their music, the amount of passion is questionable.
However, I must admit they did put on an impressive light show, starting off with beams of light shooting into the audience like the theatre was traveling through space at the speed of light. And I did walk away with a far greater appreciation of their music and its impact. Even so, mundane lyrics often stifled the mood and the power of the music.
One other random thought: Cigarettes. Lots of cigarettes. Both bands are full of blokes who appear to be chain smokers.
Spiritualized opening for Radiohead, Radio City Music Hall, New York, New York, April 17, 1998:
Perhaps after a long red-eye flight with a connection in Atlanta and running around Matthattan in search of a place to stay was a bit taxing (sometimes making it up as you go has its drawbacks), but Spiritualized did nothing to recharge the batteries when they opened for Radiohead. Then again, the anticipation of seeing Radiohead in support of OK Computer probably also played a role in my indifference. In short, Spiritualized practically put me to sleep with a stage presence and sound that did little to fill up the cavernous Radio City Music Hall. And I was right down in front.
More to follow, including:
Smash Mouth opening for U2, B.C. Place Stadium, Vancouver, British Columbia, December 9, 1997
Red Hot Chili Peppers opening for U2, Slane Castle, Slane, Ireland, August 25, 2001
Sinead O'Connor opening for The Chieftains, Red Rocks, Morrison, Colorado, June 25, 1998
No Doubt opening for U2, Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, November 18, 2001