April 30, 2005
Review by Liz Rood
I confess to approaching this show with not a little bit of anticipation. British Sea Power’s unique vision really appeals to me. It is as if a group of my oddball friends decided to form a musical collective devoted to their various eccentricities. I realized upon seeing them live that BSP shares conceptual identity with Devo and Slipknot. All three bands perform in a world they have created for themselves that is distinctly outside reality and divorced from current musical fashion. Their images and staging spring up seemingly from nowhere, completely ignoring everything outside their hermetic musical universe. BSP inhabit a post-modern vision of British nature and history. Their costumes suggest a sort of vague world of dilettante naturalists and weekend sailors. When they first walked on stage I half expected them to pull out binoculars and start scanning the room for rare birds.
Hamilton (vocals, bass) and Eamon (keyboard, guitar, and ‘Tin Drum’-style pounding) performed the entire show wrapped up in mufflers. Wood (drums) had a peculiar sort of Prince Valiant haircut. Han (vocals, guitar) looked dressed for a collegiate rowing excursion with a military medal pinned incongruously to his sleeve. Noble (guitar) looked normalish, but could easily have been a leader of the British Boy Scouts or a member of a World War II fighter squadron.
The Independent was decked with banners depicting bears, stags and various other bits of BSP arcana. The band also had a shrub roadie, or shrubber. Some poor fellow spent more than 10 minutes arranging a particular spray of greenery to get it 'just so'. This sight inspired amused ruminations on the interview process required for a British Sea Power roadie.
The band was wonderful, producing a wash of guitar and vocal harmony that was exhilarating. Imagine pale British lads in hand-me-down naval duds playing their impassioned rock and roll hearts out on a foliage-draped stage. They managed to convey a heady mix of intellect and hedonism.Their musicianship was superb, yet their show was wildly energetic and unpredictable. 'Oh Larsen B., their ode to the recently vanished Antarctic ice shelf was majestic and pastoral. ‘Carrion’ brought the house down, with the entire crowd singing and dancing along. BSP are often compared to Echo and The Bunnymen, but the Bunnymen never produced such a cacophonous wall of sound in concert. Their musical debt is more evident in the works of Roxy Music, The Stranglers, Television, Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine. I would be unsurprised to find they all own worn-out copies of ‘Avalon’ and ‘Feline’. Go see them with an open mind and a pure heart. Be sure to watch out for leaping stags and swooping hawks, because you never know what will happen at a British Sea Power show.
Read our prevous British Sea Power review:
February 27, 2004 @ Bottom of the Hill