British Sea Power at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
It’s a unique setup. British Sea Power divide their evening into two sets, an early quiet one and a later louder one, with support act Toy sandwiched in between.
It helps that Toy are a band of quality, still touring with the eponymous debut album that Paul Weller described as his favourite of 2012. However, they don’t help themselves with their choice of material. Standout track Dead & Gone a surprising omission from the set, and the lengthy jamming sessions at the end of every track were unnecessary, particularly given their brief 30-minute set. Motoring and Kopter roused the crowd, their Krautrock and early-Cure influences worn lightly, but it really is time to ditch the longueurs. They remain an outfit to watch out for, and here’s hoping for a much deserved Mercury prize nomination in September.
British Sea Power are a different proposition, particularly with the blistering intensity of their second set. The first and mellower one was warmly received; a full two hours before the second commenced it appeared that at least some of the audience were under the impression that this was yet another support act rather than their heroes. A cover of Pavement’s Here and Come Wander with Me stood out.
For their second set they arrived all guns blazing for 90 minutes of sustained aural intensity. The material from freshly released album Machineries of Joy was not out of place with the more heralded older standards, the title track and Loving Animals getting the strongest responses. A mosh pit predictably developed for Waving Flags and Carrion, but the night’s highpoint was The Great Skua, a track of soaring potency that matches Sigur Rós at their height. This even had the audience out of their seats in the upper tiers of the Empire – no mean achievement given that many of the punters had waved goodbye to their youth quite a few decades ago.
At different stages of the evening we had a man in a grizzly bear or a polar bear outfit onstage rousing the revellers, a trick borrowed from the Super Furry Animals, but one that works. By the end we had both, the evening ending in a mutual love-in between band and dedicated audience. Their fans don’t just admire them, they adore them. And so do we.
Photos: Lucia Hrdá
For further information and future events visit British Sea Power’s website here.
Watch the video for Machineries of Joy here: