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Spiritualized / Nikki Lane Live @ The Wiltern 5-22-12

Nikki Lane graced the stage at The Wiltern in Los Angeles on Tuesday night while opening for headlining act Spiritualized. The match was complimentary. For one, like the bluesy and soulful veins that flow through Spiritualized, Nikki Lane too has an appreciation for classic, early rock and roll music, so early that it’s more country and bluegrass influenced. The Nashville singer-songwriter, who had been performing solo for most of the tour, had pleasure of pedal steel and guitar accompaniment that night.

In this time, of what feels like, Zooey Deschanel mania, how could Nikki Lane not translate to the masses? Her Americana blend has a country twee flavor that’s as classic as apple pie, early Jenny Lewis and, still at moments, is as much Elvis Presley as anything (#TLC baby). For example, the way that Lane chooses to keep the botched guitar lick on her recording of “Thousand Dollar Hound” because (we’d like to think) it has the right feel (which it totally does). Still there seems a coincidental appreciation of a contemporary flare, like something musical which writers like brit pop-father Noel Gallagher and even someone ilke Willie Mason might relate. In between tracks like “Lies” and “Sleep For You” Nikki proclaimed that she ‘fucking loves Los Angeles’. Feelings seemed mutual.

“Sleep For You” by Nikki Lane tennessee (Facebook)

The stage curtain was set before Spiritualized took stage. Hanging on the curtain to the 80+ year old art deco Wiltern Theater was an aptly sponsored advert for snacks in the lobby. That’s right, this was no ordinary rock show, this was an event. The house lights went dark and the curtain rose to Spiritualized ripping into “Hey Jane” from their most recent Sweet Heart Sweet Light LP release. It was pretty epic stuff.

Noteworthy things about Spiritualized include their volume threshold. At even the lowest of volumes Spiritualized seem able to ringingout something on a guitar, but unlike many of their brit-guitar drenched peers, Spiritualized have achieved a savvy and certain level of critical success. Perhaps it’s because of their ability to work outside a box of repressed experimentation. That combined with an occasional freeform song structure which can come off as conductorial at times. Call it whatever you like but Spiritualized are musicians before they are rock stars. They finesse pentatonics with a variety of musical styles and tempos, and their jams can be something to watch.

Spiritualized performs in a half circle arrangement on stage. Almost like they’d prefer to be submerged in each others sound more than anything having to do with putting on ‘a show’. The near capacity venue (stiff competition that night from Lianne La Havas, Beck and more) absorbed every swell from a band who’s experiencing something new (live, recording, collaboration, etc) from the band at times can feel like discovering a rarely seen jungle flower (or something like that). Standouts from the set like “Soul On Fire” served a perfect fix. As did the classic refrain in “Ladies and Gents..”.

“Out of Sight” by Spiritualized (Official)

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