IT SAYS much about the sheer force of nature that Spiritualized still are as a live act that Jason Pierce, the band's frontman and sole constant member, can conjure up so much stage presence by ostensibly doing so little.

As ever with Pierce, there is (mercifully) no stage banter, or even audience eye contact, during a hypnotising Focus Wales headline set at Llwyn Isaf on Saturday night (May 11).

Sat on an office chair side-on to a fixated crowd, the bespectacled Pierce merely mumbles a few "thank yous" to those he and his latest band of merry men have left with barely a moment to draw breath for the last 90 minutes.

Here, Pierce is flanked by a trio of angelic backing singers, as many guitarists, a keyboardist and a drummer, who let the music do the talking.

And while any trace of their 1997 classic, Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating In Space, may be somewhat conspicuous by its absence - only two tracks from a 12-song setlist predate 2012, in fact - the end result remains just as mesmeric.

The Leader: Spiritualized headline FOCUS Wales on May 11Spiritualized headline FOCUS Wales on May 11 (Image: Newsquest)

From the moment drummer Kevin Bales kicks off rousing nine-minute opener Hey Jane, to the tear-jerker So Long You Pretty Thing which closes things out, the whole experience leaves you feeling soaked in a waterfall of sound washing over you, as the mirror ball glistens, heads bob and hairs stand up on end.

Though the show leans heavily on Spiritualized's largely simpler, softer and sadder material of the past decade, it's Shine a Light, the sole representative from their 1992 debut Lazer Guided Melodies, which garners the most euphoric reaction.

From the moment the opening chords come in, woven in seamlessly from the track which precedes it - She Kissed Me (It Felt Like a Hit) - there is a sense of witnessing something truly special. There's not a peep out of anyone in the crowd, too busy hanging on Pierce's every word, and his and his eight accomplices' every move.


The A Song, from their excellent ninth and latest offering, 2022's Everything Was Beautiful, is perhaps the best offering in terms of nostalgia trips, galloping further and further off the beaten path into a cacophonous space-rock stratosphere.

But even the more delicate tracks, such as I'm Your Man and Damaged from 2018's And Nothing Hurt, are just as electrifying. Even when things are stripped back, there's no loss of momentum or emotion.

Truthfully, the hour-and-a-half flies by, feeling less like a gig and more an out-of-body religious experience by the second. From a selfish point of view, it would have been nice to hear some Ladies and Gentleman material get a run-out, but Pierce's trademark shades clearly aren't rose-tinted.

And on the evidence of this assault on the senses, so they shouldn't be. Few can make the simple sound so stirring quite as masterfully as him.