Live albums, by and large, are a dime a dozen -- inconsequential souvenirs designed to placate fans awaiting new studio material, they rarely if ever shed new light on the artist in question; rarer still is their ability to approximate the energy and excitement of the concert setting itself.
Spiritualized's transcendent Royal Albert Hall October 10 1997 is the proverbial exception that proves the rule, a revelatory two-disc collection which captures the group at the peak of their powers, somehow translating the hypnotic power and epic majesty of their live set onto vinyl.
Rejecting the inane between-song stage patter common to most live performers, Jason Pierce instead weaves his music together into an unbroken tapestry of sound, casting a spell which ebbs and flows with narcotic beauty and intensity; even the most familiar selections (like "Shine a Light," "Take Your Time," and "Medication," all frequent inclusions on other Spiritualized live EPs and bootlegs) pulsate with new life, their melodies as likely to set off on a meditative drift as they are to erupt in blasts of white noise.
Granted, Royal Albert Hall isn't a substitute for the experience of actually catching the group in the flesh -- what is? -- but like so few other concert LPs, it actually rises above its conceptual limitations, forever capturing a singular moment in time and space when Spiritualized was unquestionably the greatest rock & roll band in the world.