British Sea Power
Ok, that's a touch un-nerving. Or interesting depending on your point of view. Hanging from the ceiling above centre stage is a small puppet - something that is replicated elsewhere with comrades of his dangling from amps. I'm sure it has some deep meaning - probably the road crew are bored. Anyway, on with the show.
British Sea Power are a band who could argue quite convincingly that it should have been them, for their act seems to have been purloined by the Canadian scene, notably Arcade Fire and Stars, who have gone on to astronomical success while our bunch of plucky Brits are stuck on the small stages. They do have an album to promote, so back on the road. Once you get over the mass puppet genocide they kick off with new track 'Lights Out For Darker Skies', although we're distracted again by the surreal sight of a costume clad violinist who is wearing the body, if not the head of a furry animal (I'm guessing cat). A second new track, 'Atoms', from new album 'Do You Like Rock Music?', prompts the first bit of crowd surfing of the evening, but not from naughty gig-goers (it's an older more cerebral crowd than that), instead from the guitarist.
Dipping into their back catalogue for 'Remember Me' the crowd gives the first big reaction - understandable as for most this may be the first time hearing the new material - and the band respond with the first rock out. 'Canvey Island' is accompanied by round of applause for their replacement drummer - but no explanation for the missing man. Is he in hiding from international authorities following naughtiness at their last gig in the Czech Embassy in London? Has he been shrunk down and is in fact the puppet hanging centre stage? We demand answers!
Continuing with new material, 'Down On The Ground' is almost pop-punk in its catchy sensibility, but with a delicacy from the vocals. And old favourite 'Fear Of Drowning' is, well an old favourite. Ending their set with recent single 'No Lucifer', the encore degenerates into chaos as band members crowd surf while playing a tuba, get rides around the place on the back of the audience, and then, determined not to be outdone, the aforementioned guitarist attempts to pole dance (for our pleasure, but appears not to be getting much money for his show - maybe needs to show a bit more leg), before clearing a path and flinging himself full-length at another one of the support poles further from the stage.
It's fun, but there is the feeling that their time is maybe past, that there hasn't been the development of the band, and that their sound has been overtaken by the Canadians who have picked it up and run with it, going further than BSP have, or maybe further than BSP have dared to - BSP being a chocolate gateaux to Arcade Fire's treble chocolate death by chocolate with added cream. It's still an entertaining cabaret though.