British Sea Power are a band that seem to be in a state of perpetual motion. The wheels haven’t stopped on their tour bus throughout 2008 as they shuttle from country to country in support of their outstanding third album “Do You Like Rock Music?”. Tonight Glasgow got the full BSP experience as we were treated to an incendiary set from a band who are clearly on top of their game. The constant touring and time to rehearse with each other seems to have resulted in the impossible happening… I didn’t think there was much room for improvement but the musicianship of the band has actually got tighter, they seem even more in tune with each other and altogether just a devastating proposition live.
You couldn’t have possibly asked for a stronger start to the set coming out of the blocks and knocking us down with the double punch of “Fear of Drowning” followed by “Carrion”. The sound quality as always in the ABC was excellent with every word that came out of both Hamilton and Yan’s mouths coming across loud and clear from the offset. One of the major advantages of now having three amazingly strong albums under their belts (along with EP’s and stand-alone singles) is that they can vary the setlist to keep things fresh for both the audience and themselves. Tonight the set had a heavy focus on both their first and third album with only the ice shelf love song “Oh Larsen B” included from “Open Season”. “Lights Out For Darker Skies” sounded epic, “Atom” twisted into the vibrant singalong of “I just don’t get it” while instrumental “The Great Skua” was spine tingling and beautiful as it built and built to its flourishing climax. The inclusion of Czech only single “A Lovely Day Tomorrow” was a nice touch for the hardcore fans amongst the audience and left us all wanting a taste of the “British Ale Power” that was produced by Budvar to accompany the release.
The set was brought to a close with another two “Decline Of” classics as the soaring guitar riff of “Remember Me” burst into the air before finishing with the short sharp shriek of “Apologies To Insect Life”.
As they left the stage the screens kicked into life with various pictures of wildlife and then the word “Easy” flashed repeatedly signalling their return. The shouts of “EASY, EASY” grew louder as the crowd urged them back onto the stage to play “No Lucifer” and what turned out to be a magnificently chaotic three-song encore. After revelling in their favourite penultimate track “The Spirit of St Louis” the real fun started with the ten minute version of “Rock In A”. Noble’s stage diving was an art form, complete with padded hat he slung himself again and again into the crowd. These weren’t your average stage dives they were from massive run-ups and the beaming smile on his face said it all as he was carried aloft triumphantly. As this was going on the music blared and “Ursine Ultra”(BSP’s bear mascot) made his appearance on stage to loud cheers and as is customary received a damn good thrashing from the band.
The size of venue may have escalated and the stage show might have had a little money invested on projection screens and lighting but the essence of what makes BSP great will never change. Energy, passion outstanding musical talent and that little bit of eccentricity that runs through their veins mean that BSP will continue to standout from their peers.
When British Sea Power are in town there’s no half measures (drink or otherwise), they give a bucket of blood and sweat every night on whatever oily stage they stand and put on a show that’s both theatrically enthralling and musically sublime. On a Saturday that will be forever remembered by the majority of Scotland for that miss by Chris Iwelumo against Norway I’m glad there was one place in Glasgow where it was a given that you’d get to chant “EASY, EASY, EASY”.
Fear Of Drowning
Lights Out For Darker Skies
Favours In The Beetroot Fields
Down On The Ground
Lovely Day Tomorrow
The Great Skua
Oh Larsen B
Apologies To Insect Life