Live Music + Gig Reviews

Broadcast @ Islington Academy, London

10 December 2003

Broadcast's Trish Keenan

Broadcast’s Trish Keenan

It feels weird going to a gig in a shopping centre, for that’s effectively where the Islington Academy lies. Once inside though this picture is banished, the darkly intimate venue a perfect setting for Broadcast‘s nocturnal songs.

First up, though, an unnamed DJ warms up the electronica heads in the house with thirty minutes of instrumental tracks, delivered with the minimum of fuss. Then it’s on to the charming support act The Project, full of smiles yet asking pertinent questions. If There Were More Of Us Would We Be Better? is one appealing song, and actually the answer would be yes as the guitarist was suffering a total lack of volume on the vocal mic. A shame. Runner Up is one of the more memorable songs, as the group perform in a style vaguely reminiscent of Pizzicato Five.

So to the main act, the Wolverhampton quintet, who deliver their songs with total commitment and intensity, held together tightly by Steve Perkins’ virtuoso drumming. Occasionally overdone, it nonetheless forms a crucial part of the Broadcast sound, which is surprisingly psychedelic in the live arena with plenty of distortion in the keyboard sounds. Appealing images of celestial bodies and chemical reactions provide a perfect shimmering backdrop to the music, glittering brightly in the dark.

First song Pendulum is punchy and tight, vocalist Trish Keenan swaying to the rhythm and sometimes allowing a glimpse of her eyes through her jet black fringe. Come On Let’s Go is a delight, the distortion of the high keyboard part spot on. Keenan’s voice intrigues me, a low range alto for ninety percent of the time, capable of some powerful bottom register notes, especially when ‘aaaahing’ at the end of songs, a tactic in danger of being overused.

Keenan’s versatility is clear from the tenderness of the quieter material (no Echo’s Answer, which is a shame), but all are delivered with a sway and a smile – apparently something not all that forthcoming at previous Broadcast gigs! A rapturous reception, richly deserved, brings the band back on for a three-number encore, with the final wordless track Hammer Without A Master reaching for the heights. This marks the first time Keenan flexes her wings and abandons her voice in the music. It’s a frenzied finale that secures a happy home going crowd.

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More on Broadcast
Broadcast – Berberian Sound Studio
Obituary: Broadcast’s Trish Keenan
Broadcast @ Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
Broadcast – Tender Buttons
Broadcast @ Islington Academy, London