British Sea Power
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Field Music kick off tonight's proceedings with an agreeable set of summertime sing-alongs, gently enveloping the audience with the warmth of their eponymous debut album. Their breezy pop takes in elements of The Beach Boys and West Coast folk with a driving back-beat in support of some wondrous two and three part harmonies. Though their stage show is a little too static to truly captivate, the accomplishment with which they deliver these tightly woven pop nuggets is more than enough to tease the pallet.
Headliners British Sea Power waste no time in serving up the main course followed by a quite surreal dessert. Adorning the stage with enough foliage to stock a small forest, the Brighton based quintet tear into 'Apologies To Insect Life' and demonstrate what difference a smattering of showmanship can make. Singer Yan (surname withheld) yelps his way through this first number before picking up a guitar for 'Remember Me', awash with sublime Pixies-esque noise pollution, and this initial burst suggests a fantastic show lies ahead.
The pace relents, unfortunately, as a variety of sound issues (and, apparently, reading problems) dog the middle of the set. Instrument swapping can often add interest to a live show, but for BSP tonight it results in unbridled confusion as nobody seems to know what they're playing next. Once they get their act back together there are several more moments of magnificence, most of which are punctuated by jagged, almost post-punk shards of guitar noise and Yan's Bowie impersonating croon.
There's new stuff, too, but it's the likes of 'Scottish Wildlife' and the sublime 'Fear Of Drowning' that evoke the most enthusiastic reaction. Songs like these are a reminder that at their best, British Sea Power have some truly phenomenal, fist-pumping moments in them. The wanton indulgence of finale 'Pelican', which sees an inflatable guitar and tambourine finding their way into the audience, is indescribable to anybody yet to witness a BSP live show but it's safe to say that it's a fitting end to a slightly schizophrenic performance. If Dr Jekyll showed his face more often, British Sea Power could easily be one of the best bands in the country. As it is, they're just one of the most lovable.
Photos courtesy of Gary Wolstenholme
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