Is there an indie rock band more eccentric than Brighton’s British Sea Power? They’re a band who gets a young mega fan from Toronto, Canada to introduce their sets. They’re a band who have their own unique festival called Tin Hat. They’re a band who will go anywhere to perform a concert (on their 2008 tour they even managed to squeeze Canvey Island and the Natural History Museum into their busy schedule).
Recently the band have been more productive than ever, releasing Do You Like Rock Music? two years ago followed by the soundtrack to Man Of Aran a year later. Now with another new album on the way, they should be at ease in places like the Bloomsbury Ballroom to a crowd sheltering from the almost unbearable warmth outdoors.
It’s therefore strange when the band feel a bit out of place during the first few songs of their set. Contrary to previous shows in their history, there wasn’t that much eccentricity in their stage decorations bar the now customary flags adorned over their amps and frontman and guitarist Yann’s knitted tanktop (you’d think on a hot day like this he’d dress a bit more sensibly). Some sound issues niggled; it took some time to hear vocals during opener Lights Out For Darker Skies and even an air-raid siren refused to work during Atom, prompting Nobby to chuck it into the photo pit. It seemed like nothing was going to go right.
But then, somewhere around half an hour into the set, a spark ignites and we’re back on track. No Lucifer encourages an enthusiastic shout of “Easy! Easy!” from the crowd and the momentum from that is carried over into the euphoric and frenetic threesome of early single Remember Me (which makes for furious pogo-ing near the front), the punk rock fury of Favours In The Beetroot Fields and the sweeping and anthemic Please Stand Up. By the time Waving Flags roars into action, the awkwardness of the start of the show is all but forgotten about completely.
It’s also an evening of surprises. For a band whose new album is imminent, only two new songs – going by the titles of Pyrex and RNF – are premiered to the London audience. They suggest another natural evolution is on the way; expanding the template laid down on Do You Like Rock Music? For a set that is firmly focused on their back catalogue to date, it isn’t a run-of-the-mill ‘greatest hits’ set. This is proven with the surprise and welcome airing of Open Season album cut True Adventures and the equally relaxing tones of The Great Skua, which provide some moments of calm and tranquillity to a very energetic setlist.
It took some time to get going but it’s clear that the British Sea Power momentum shows no signs of letting up. Buoyed the acclaim of their previous two efforts and with a new set of songs waiting to be unleashed to an anticipating audience, their gig tonight suggests that 2010 could be a year to remember for the Brighton-based eccentrics.