I’ve always liked British Sea Power. In part, for reasons many could write off as ‘gimmicks’.
I like the fact they’re called British Sea Power, that their first album was called The Decline Of British Sea Power, that they used to dress the stage up in foliage and stuffed birds at live shows, and that the immediate follow-up to their most populist record ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’ was a full-length soundtrack to a black and white silent film about living on a remote Scottish island (both film and soundtrack called Man of Aran).
I think quirkiness and originality are to be applauded, but for those of you who harbour suspicions there’s another reason to love British Sea Power – their music’s really, really good.
Their records are great, but they have always come across better live, and even by their standards Friday’s performance, to a sell-out crowd at the Wedgewood Rooms, Albert Road, was breathtaking.
They played tracks from their five full-length albums, including a beautiful version of ‘No Man Is An Archipelago’, in which a big screen showing the final moments of Man of Aran was still not enough to divert attention from violinist Abi Fry and bassist and singer Hamilton leaning against one another while driving the song forward.
They encourage ‘interaction’, too, with guitarist Noble asking security staff to allow crowd surfing. The audience returned the favour during the encore, twice refusing to allow the guitarist back to the stage when he dived into the crowd himself.
Yann, a strangely quiet Cumbrian for a lead singer, may have come close to summing the evening up for most people when he told the cheering, clapping crowd, ‘you’re a good lot, you lot’ – positively emotional, for him.
But at the end of the gig, I turned to say goodbye to a girl who had earlier confessed she’d only heard a few songs before coming to the gig, and insisted I came to the front with her as a ‘real fan’. With a faint possibility of a tear in her eye, she said ‘that was amazing’.
She was right. See them as soon as you can...