Thursday, 27 October 2011

Live Review: British Sea Power @ The Leadmill, Sheffield

Date: Wednesday 26th October 2011

During a break between songs Yan, the nearest British Sea Power has to a frontman, thanks Sheffield for coming out and says something along the lines of “This is the first date of the final leg of our final tour”. I sincerely hope he meant either for a while, or in the current line up. The prospect of a world without British Sea Power in it simply doesn't bear thinking about. Over their four studio albums, multiple EPs, soundtracks and singles they've demonstrated repeatedly how they are one of the greatest bands in the world, and fully deserving of the 'national treasures' tag that's frequently applied when they reappear.

First support act The Kontours seem unlikely to ever be described as such. Decent musicians (especially considering they look REALLY young) but far too indebted to mainstream hard rock to break out of the 'local band' feel, they do nothing really more than pass the time. Unlike main support Seize The Chair who're from Sheffield but prove to be rather good. Throwing bits of everything in the mix, at times they seem to have the post-punk obtuseness of The Futureheads and the punk drive of The Undertones, whilst at others they come across like a lost '60s beat group. Fun, interesting and worth further investigation.

If this does turn out to be the last time I see British Sea Power (admittedly it's also only my second, with the first being Spring 06 when they put Open Season to bed) then it's a excellent summary of their career that's on display. A friend reports that their Jodrell Bank set over the summer leaned too heavily on Valhalla Dancehall to the point of excluding The Decline Of.... That's not the case tonight, although plenty from their latest is aired, as is only appropriate for a tour to promote the release. 'Who's In Control?' opens the set with all of the ferocious aplomb that you'd expect, with extra member/multi-instrumentalist Phil Sumner adding a third guitar to the din. 'We Are Sound' and 'Lights Out For Darker Skies' are both aired early on complemented brilliantly by the viola of Abi Fry, who seems to glide across stage left in contrast to the tumbling of the guys.

Visuals on side of stage screens accompany the Valhalla Dancehall tracks whilst the older numbers receive a strobe and blinder heavy light show. The crowd aren't as animated as I've known them to be for BSP in the past but it's not to say they're not involved. The Hamilton lead 'No Lucifer' gets an “EASY! EASY!” chant going and 'The Lonely', 'It Ended On An Oily Stage' and 'Fear Of Drowning' all receive tremendous applause. Also woth a mention is 'Oh Larsen B' which sounds particularly wonderful tonight fleshed out with the full six piece. On my previous live encounter with BSP they'd just lost Eamon to Brakes and were operating as a stripped back four. With Open Season quite the sore thumb in the British Sea Power catalogue it was great to see such a moment given the airing it deserves.

'Remember Me', despite being the one that most people seem to be waiting for, doesn't stand head-and-shoulders above the rest of British Sea Power's set tonight. With it being arguably the greatest rock song of the 21st century it shows something about the rest of the Sea Powers set. It's played towards the end, but the encore is saved for 'Waving Flags' and 'Carrion' which is then taken into 'All In It' before finally we get the traditional closer 'Rock In A', the last strains of which echo around the venue after the band have left the stage and audience have started to file out.


Keep Pop Loud

PS: If anyone from BSP HQ read this – please re-issue 'Spirit Of St. Louis'


Anonymous said...

The Kontours aren't from Sheffield, they're from Coventry. They're 15/16 years old. Although perhaps not the best match musically for BSP, this review has been heavily influenced by your personal tastes. To call the band nothing more than a "pass time" is simply rude. It's clear they're not just another 'local band' by the fact they were offered this slot in the first place & since the show have been asked to play more shows by BSP's management & promotions team.

Lee said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment. The review has been amended to not imply that the band are from Sheffield, however the "local band feel" comment does stand. And yes, the review has been heavily influenced by personal tastes, as I'm sure you'll find all reviews are.

That the band are 15/16 goes very much in their favour as, such as the review stated, they are already good musicians. As time goes on I'm sure they'll become much more as a band.


Anonymous said...

i agree with reviews should be impartial and whilst its appreciated everyone has their own personal view i agree that the 'pass the time' comment as rude and ill imformed...maybe not to your personal taste...which you could have highlited. For an outfit of 15/16 yerar olds to be invited to perform and to have a number of major supports already under their belt is testement to thier hardwork and committment to furthering their craft.
I appreciate that many in the business are happy with the same old indie/oasis wanna be's...the kontours may be beyond understanding...surely words of quiet encouragement and appreication would be more in keeping with the ethos of music...regardless of your personal view...still i guess some need that platform to herlad their own taste and preference.
Good to see that the kontours have gained a response and im sure should they read this they'll not be fazed...the support requests keep coming by bigger and better..keep um peeled i say.

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