British Sea Power – live review

British Sea Power

The Forum,

London

”“ February 27, 2011

As our favourite arbiters of all that is different and contrary, it is difficult to imagine British Sea Power crossing over into the big boys' playground. This, after all, is a band that likes to date its website newsboosts according to the French Revolutionary Calendar. It is a band that thought it would be a cracking idea to begin debut single ”˜Fear Of Drowning' with the radio-unfriendly line “Jesus f@@@ing Christ oh God no.” A band, indeed, that harbours a determined ambition to one day play a gig for an animal-only audience.

They have enjoyed many moments of pure, classy genius over the last decade. But while their maniacal fanbase, the Third Battalion, will be familiar with extraordinary gigs like the one at St John Boste Social Club in Kendal and astonishingly great recordings like the b-side, “Salty Water”, BSP's recces into the proper world of indiedom have not always been artistically successful.

This latest London show, being at the Forum and all, could easily have slipped down the same old tube. But, praise be, instead we found a band at long last willing and very able to walk in sensible shoes.The stage was swathed in foliage, of course, and the merch stand was still ludicrously ”˜out there' with its ”˜Zeus' beer and other oddities, but the sound was for once suitably huge, the lights suitably dynamic and the performance suitably focused to render an unexpurgated impact.Hopping mad tunes like ”˜Apologies To Insect Life' were performed with such aplomb that they sat easily with their more palatable brothers like recent call to arms ”˜Who's In Control' and old near-hit ”˜Carrion'. Their erstwhile nature-loving anthem, ”˜Blackout', followed beautifully on from ”˜Lights Out For Darker Skies' and there were air-punches all round for ”˜Remember Me' and ”˜Waving Flags'.

But perhaps the finest few minutes came during ”˜Great Skua' when BSP presented a potted history of their ”˜Man Of Aran' project to an edited version of that most mental of whale-hunting films. As a showcase to the passive observer of the sort of madness that BSP get up to when they are given the run of the NFT, it couldn't be bettered.It went on ”“ for two hours, it went on. But with material like ”˜It Ended On An Oily Stage' and ”˜Spirit Of St Louis' (complete with Spitfire sound effects) to choose from, there was never any danger of attention being allowed to wander.In a few days, they'll be back to their usual antics ”“ playing on a Thames-side barge and shacking up in a Westminster library. But, really, British Sea Power should be proud to have pulled off their weirdest coup yet: they took on the real world and won.

 

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