Spiritualized, The Shortwave Set

Ross Cunningham 07/10/2008

I can only imagine that opening for Spiritualized must be an exhilarating yet at the same time rather daunting experience. Knowing the sheer volume of talent that will follow you onto the stage coupled with the task of trying to impress a fan-base that are more than likely already hearing “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space” in their heads surely can't be easy. Luckily enough “The Shortwave Set” have more than enough talent to warrant their place on the bill. Unfortunately when three flashes of a torch signalled that the band were about to pick up their instruments the ABC looked more like a cavernous hole devoid of life than a city centre music venue. Those who had made the effort to turn up early seemed to be cowering at the bar clutching onto their drinks or stuck to the walls, leaving the floor open and empty as they started their set with new album opener “Harmonia”. Finally after a few slightly tipsy souls (which may or may not have included myself) placed themselves squarely in front of the band the rest of the place gradually seemed to follow suit and a brief yet lovely musical dalliance ensued.

If you haven't yet had the pleasure of letting your little eardrums get drowned in the sound of “The Shortwave Set” then let me tell you a little more about them. The trio formed in London in 2003 and released their debut album “The Debt Collection” two years later to widespread critical acclaim. Evidently it wasn't only the critics taking note as “super producer” “Danger Mouse” reportedly called the band his “favourite contemporary group” and has subsequently went on to produce their sophomore album.

As a follow up “Replica Sun Machine” is sonically beautiful, laden with plenty of samples, synths, dreamy sounding guitars and awash with soaring harmonies. The set was built around their new album with songs like “Replica” and “House of Lies” proving to be just as infectious sounding live as they are on record. Ulrika's voice at times fleets to almost the Nico-esque and while on stage she never stops moving. Playing a plethora of instruments from a Fisherprice style mouth keyboard (the proper name eludes me?), to the more conventional guitar (I think that's what it's called) or various other percussion instruments, in other words she's obviously a very talented woman. Andrew shares the spotlight with her and his vocal is matter of fact and crisp while David seems happy to stay back behind his laptop making sure everything runs seamlessly. As the gig went on they seemed genuinely happy to be playing the music that they quite obviously love to a crowd who were getting more into what they were doing with each passing second. Midway through the set Andrew informed us to turn our bluetooth on to receive free Shortwave Set stuff to our mobiles, which I tried but somehow cancelled it by mistake (fat fingers maybe I dunno). Whether it was good or not I have no idea but it's nice to see bands embracing technology and using it as a vehicle to get their music and message out to people. Other highlights in the set included the infuriatingly catchy “Glitches 'n' Bugs” pop infused new single “Now til '69” and “No Social” with the somewhat strange line that was left ringing in my ears “because everyone knows that a dog dressed in clothes is still a dog”. As they exited the stage to huge applause it was clear that “The Shortwave Set” had turned what could have potentially been a hard day at the office into a resounding success.