Review: Public Service Broadcasting at The Pyramids Centre in Southsea

Victor Ariat

Smooth sailing for Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Portsmouth Guildhall

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There really is no-one else out there quite like Public Service Broadcasting at the moment.

Looking like a 1950s geography teacher – tweed jacket, bow tie and chunky glasses – J Willgoose Esq, is the ostensible frontman. But the multi-instrumentalist speaks only through voice samples from his computer which makes it like being addressed by a Speak & Spell, while his foil Wrigglesworth lets his drums do the talking and new man JF Abrahams adds bass and trumpet.

With a new album focusing on the Space Race, their retro-futuristic sound tells the story of the years 1957 to ’72, using archive footage from key moments. In the live arena this also translates into video footage from the era being shown on big screens and stacks of old cathode-ray TV sets at the sides of the stage.

Not to mention the replica Sputnik that rises above the stage and has distinctly more flashy LED displays than the original Soviet satellite.

Highpoints include support act, Chichester’s Smoke Fairies, return to the stage to perform their part on Valentina, and the venue being plunged into darkness during The Other Side, which tells the story of Apollo 8, the first manned craft to orbit the Moon.

By the encores we’ve got a three-piece brass section on stage, J has donned a shiny silver jacket (but assures us he’s still got the tweed underneath) and there’s even a dancing astronaut. Gagarin is the funkiest track they’ve recorded to date, before the finale of older song Everest takes things to a new peak.

PSB create the most incredible musical tribute to human endeavour. If you get the chance, go see them.