Spiritualized – Shine A Light (Live at the Royal Albert Hall)

I took this photo in a spur of the moment time wasting excercise waiting for the doors to open before I saw Depeche Mode at the Royal Albert Hall last month. To be technically honest I took two photos than I then combined in Photoshop to comp the image above together, taking the shade from a longer exposed version than the light – HDR for dummies if you like.

For those who haven’t come across the term HDR it stands for High Dynamic Range and is basically a way to digitally cheat the possibilities inherant in a camera’s sensor to produce more tones in an image. For much better examples than this, have a look here and here.

Despite being a bit of an experiment and my first attempt at anything close to proper HDR photography the shot got more views than anything I else I’ve ever put on Flickr: not per se hard, bit it made me think I should maybe put it on here with something too.

So of course my initial thought was to use a track by the mighty Mode – but to be honest, I don’t really know their stuff beyond the hits to know what to use, so I thought a little wider and wondered about songs about the night, the light, memorials, and even if there are any songs about the Albert Hall I could use (couldn’t think of any apart the ditty about a certain dictator’s reproductive organ or lack thereof). But of course, lots and lots of bands have recorded live shows at the Royal Albert Hall for release (a very high level scan includes Creem, Clapton, Cat Stevens, Cinematic Orchestra and Cliff Richards – and that’s just the Cs), as have a band who I do know enough about to choose an appropriate tune, Spiritualized, who played their way back when in 1997.

Their show was part of the tour surrounding the utterly seminal Ladies And Gentleman We Are Floating In Space – and album so sublimely good, I still do not understand how it got into the top five of the UK charts! If you don’t own it, first, weep for the time you’ve lost with it, second buy it here, third consider investing a little more in the comprehensive special edition that was released last year and is available here.

But that’s enough about Ladies because on considering Spiritualized’s back catalogue, a song from a different album stood out to me – namely Shine A Light, which is hopefully playing from the link above as you read this… Unless you read real slow and hit play at the start. Shine A Light is drawn from Spiritualized’s 1992 (blimey I was nine!) debut record, Lazer Guided Melodies, main man Jason Pierce’s first foray into the world beyond his first band Spaceman 3.

The track is remarkably far down the road to which Spiritualized became famous for, a sort of indie gospel drone, and as with all of his best work, explores the (in Pierce’s world) blurry boundaries between love, religion and drugs. Starting with the softest of melodies and descending into something deeper as layer after layer of tone and fuzz are gradually built up into a crescendo – something further emphasised in the version above.

You can buy the full album Live At The Royal Albert Hall and also Lazer Guided Melodies from Amazon here and here respectively. The same albums and many more (well eight or so) are also available here on Spiritualized.

Finally, for the junky or the completist, there is a wealth of unreleased and alternate versions of Spiritualized’s work spanning their entire career, and including an alternate mix of Shine A Light available on their excelent website www.spiritualized.com.