In the Freudian "mine's bigger than yours" sweepstakes, there's no doubt
that America is in a class by itself, but every once in awhile we Canadians
like to sneak up and do things like, oh, for instance, build the world's
tallest structure, just to piss off the Yanks.
The Empire State Building? Small potatoes, buddy.
Thus the CN Tower in Toronto, the ultimate in architectural highs. No
wonder, then that a man known for his intense interest in the pharmaceutical
side of elevation should want to merge the two and come up with the
ultimate concert buzz.
This apparently, was the thinking of Spiritualized leader Jason "Spaceman"
Pierce, whose band played in a bar atop the CN Tower Wednesday in what will
be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as, according to a
press release handed out during the performance, "the highest concert
ever performed in a man-made structure."
With album titles like Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs
To and Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space in his
repertoire, the joke here was obvious. Maybe a little too obvious,
in fact. There's something a bit troubling about a band whose current album
is so fraught with the psychic chaos caused by radical chemical destructuring
being willing to reduce it all to a matter of kitsch.
Oh well. Out they came, the Spiritualized troupe, with Pierce looking
fit, far from the wasted junkie protagonist of Ladies And Gentlemen.....
But somehow, whether due to the audience make-up (a few actual rock fans
who'd won a local radio contest scattered amidst a throng of media and
record company types who couldn't have cared less), or the fact that
5 p.m. is an awkward time for Spiritualized's 3 a. m. nod-out
grooves, the show failed to achieve lift-off.
As for the CN Tower angle, once the novelty wore off (about a minute
into the first song), this could have been any crappy little bar anywhere.
Credit must be given, however, to Pierce and company for at least
playing a reduced but still respectable set (around one hour) for their
Guinness Record setting performance, scattering older numbers such as
"Electric Mainline" amidst already classic material from Ladies And
Gentlemen.... such as "Come Together" and "Cop Shoot Cop." But
the atmosphere was sapped of any vitality by the chattering yuppies
in the crowd, most of whom probably thought the term "cop shoot
cop" referred to an altercation between two police officers.
"The highest concert in the world" billing, then, was even more ironic
than it was meant to be. As an "event" ("I was there when the
Spaceman set the record!!"), I guess it was fine, but it also the left the
music fan in me longing to get his feet back on the ground.