British Sea Power, Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms, 9th October 2019
British Sea Powerare one of the greatest British UK bands of the 21st century. I just had to put it out there as they seldom get the recognition they deserve. Now that I have gotten that statement out of my system I can go forth and review the latest live show of their mini-tour (2 dates) down in Portsmouth.
With a new album on the horizon (throw some money their way here to make the album as fantastic as possible) BSP hit the road to try out some new material for their loyal fan base. They may have been a member short with keyboardist/cornet player Phil Summer not in attendance, but this did not detract from the welcoming Portsmouth crowd; elated to see their heroes take the stage. BSP may seemingly have a similar fan base to The Wedding Present as their contemporaries: Franz Ferdinand and The Libertines that being mainly middle-aged white men; how many bands other than Il Divo play to an older audience then themselves each night? An odd phenomenon.
The band (surrounded by leafs and twigs decorating the stage) began with some old classics ‘Machineries of Joy‘, Oh’Larsen B‘ and a much welcome ‘Who’s in Control?‘, before singer Yan said a brief hello and commented that they may slip in a few new tracks. And with that they created a 18 track set mixed perfectly between old and new BSP songs, the four new tracks didn’t stray too far from what one would expect. They have yet to be tempted into the world of Grime or Bassline and ‘Two Fingers’ stood out as future single – backed by a audience member exclaiming “fucking tune!” to a grinning Noble. It may take a few more listens to really get my head around the quality of the new tracks, but Noble’s guitar playing is progressing with each album and I can’t wait to hear some of the finished guitar riffs on the record.
Apart from the new songs, it was business as usual with the quintet. For every epic ‘Lights Out For Darker Skies’ there was the more subtle Hamilton fronted material like ‘Spring Has Sprung‘ and ‘What You’re Doing‘ and of course there was room for their classics ‘Remember Me‘ and ‘Waving Flags’. I have been witness to a dozen BSP shows, but I didn’t expect Yan to remove his boots mid set and then during the close of their 14 minute ‘Lately’ jump onto the front railings and have me hold on to his left ankle so he could stand and sing the question “do you like my hygienic rock? “.
And yes, after a night of rocking out his socks did whiff somewhat and it was a new experience for me to have not only my ears and eyes engaged to their performance by now my smell. After Yan got bored of surfing the railing he jumped into the audience only to return to the stage to the end the show with a former B-side and a cover of the enigmatic Julian Cope’s‘Out of my Mind on Dope and Speed‘ – which left certain audience members confused as to why they decided to wrap it up with such a niche track- especially after the perfect ending of ‘Lately’. But this is what is to be expected of BSP – they are always willing to break conventions. No 9 ft bears or Phil, but still one of the best gigs of the year.