Maximum Performance

Ace of Hearts: Spiritualized Open L.A.’s Ace Hotel Theatre on Valentine’s Day

Lyndsey Parker
Maximum Performance

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"All I want in life's a little bit of love to take the pain away," crooned Jason Pierce, legendary frontman of iconic space-rock band Spiritualized, as he sat with his guitar by the white-rose-petal-strewn edge of the opulent United Artists Theatre, a gorgeously restored venue inside Downtown Los Angeles's new Ace Hotel.

What a lovely, and lovey-dovey, sentiment for the occasion — as were Jason's later performances of "I Think I'm in Love" and "Broken Heart" in particular. It was Valentine's Day, you see. And everyone in the audience — including Moby, John C. Reilly, and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon — was feeling the psychedelic love, as Jason recreated the my-bloody-amazing-Valentine-esque magic of Spiritualized's epic cult classic, the 1997 album "Ladies and Gentlemen, We are Floating in Space."

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Yes, "epic" is an oft-overused adjective nowadays. But in the case of this review, it's entirely fitting. Any opportunity to see the artist occasionally known as J. Spaceman, who nearly died in 2005 from a serious bout of pneumonia that caused his heart to cease beating twice, would've been cause for celebration itself, Valentine's Day notwithstanding. But to see him revisit his trance-rock masterwork backed by a six-piece band, a nine-person gospel choir, and a full orchestra, in a Gothic, gilded ex-movie palace haunted by the old-Hollywood spirits of United Artists legends Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin, was, well, a truly spiritual experience.

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The show was a nearly two-hour marathon of squall, skronk, and strobelights, climaxing with "Cop Shoot Cop," 17 minutes of controlled choral chaos that probably would've made for an effectively heady makeout soundtrack, if the couples in the venue hadn't been so completely focused on what was going on onstage. Canoodling would just have to wait.

Adding to the ambiance? The fact that most recently, the United Artists Theatre served as the megachurch for eccentric televangelist Dr. Gene Scott. This tied in nicely with Jason's rock 'n' roll messiah complex, particularly when he played "No God Only Religion" or encored with Spiritualized's famously secular cover of the gospel standard "Oh Happy Day." What would Dr. Scott have thought? That was unclear, but it was definitely a very happy Valentine's Day for the 1,200 worshipful spectators inside the Ace Hotel Friday evening.

Full setlist:

Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
Come Together
I Think I'm in Love
All of My Thoughts
Stay With Me
Electricity
Home of the Brave
The Individual
Broken Heart
No God Only Religion
Cool Waves
Cop Shoot Cop

Encore:

Out of Sight (from 2001's "Let It Come Down")
Spread Your Wings (from 1995's "Pure Phase")
Oh Happy Day

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