By Kenny McMurtrie
October 30, 2011
Rarely do you see a merchandise stall featuring a memoir of the headline act and the family of a couple of its members but, if you’re to come across that anywhere, then a British Sea Power show is probably one of the less surprising places to encounter the like. Alongside the more run of the mill CDs and t-shirts, Ray Wilkinson’s (ex-manager, brother of Yan & Hamilton) work Do It For Your Mum sat centre-stage beside mugs featuring a cheery play on words (Sea replaced by Tea in the band name) and boxes of fudge, lending the table an air of the village fete.
Antics on stage were pretty circumscribed by comparison, given the historical precedent for doing more than merely coming along and playing songs and chatting with the audience. Kicking off with ‘Remember Me’ this was a great reminder of the fact that BSP can be a very loud band indeed when they want to be and also of the chant-along aspect of a lot of the material. For my money they featured ‘Who’s In Control’ too early in the set but that is a minor quibble to level against an enjoyable, loose and inclusive performance backed up by some striking visuals (particularly for ‘Living Is So Easy’).
Phil Sumner seemed to be having all his forgetful moments and tour gremlins in the one night but no show stoppers, whilst the graceful Abi Frey was a consistent pleasure in the gloom of Stage Right. Encoring with ‘Carrion’ they eventually trooped off (toasting the crowd as they went) having fully delivered the goods to the devoted audience. Always a pleasure to witness a socially aware group who don’t attempt to preach via the back of their hands.
I only managed to catch one of tonight’s support acts but Ducks Fly To Moscow seemingly went down well with BSP so that’s probably endorsement enough in itself. Pleasingly though The Electric Soft Parade were just launching into ‘Empty At The End’ when I wandered through the door so it was a welcome surprise to discover they’re back in this incarnation and that Brakes haven’t become the White brothers’ sole concern (not of course that there’s anything wrong with Brakes). Live the band at times came across like Joe Jackson doing his thing but they have a cosy and inoffensive sound all their own still for all that, with new song ‘Number 1’ fitting well into their canon. Unfortunately their first time back in the city since 2003 was brought to a rather abrupt end mid-anecdote, due no doubt to time concerns, but for what they got the punters were thankful.