British Sea Power: The Ritz, 12th October 2008
I’ve been thinking about those sections of gigs between the support act and the main attraction. Y’know, the bit where you get your position (always left-side of the stage for me), worry about whether you need to go to the loo (again), get another pint or if some 6.5ft brick shithouse will stand in front of you (my rule of thumb: always make sure you can see the lead singer’s microphone stand, although this depends on the genre of the show – insert laptop, big tangle of wires etc as appropriate).
So you get your position and wait, sometimes with excited anticipation (which realises that decision on needing the loo or not) and sometimes with an arrogant indifference (‘entertain me then, you fuckers’). Usually all you get to see is a few roadies testing guitars, taping down set lists and flashing their torches. With BSP the in-between section is a show in itself: yes, you get the usual tuning and checking, but you also get the arrangement of flora of different types and the placement of a variety of different bird models – last night’s show featured an owl and a heron. The various twigs, branches and birds were arranged by one roadie whom I hope has ‘Foliage and wildlife model co-ordinator’ on his laminate. He seemed to be having trouble with one rather large branch (possibly sycamore) that kept on toppling over. In addition to his laminate pass I hope he carries – like all BSP roadies should – a good quality Swiss army knife as he disappeared behind a stack of amps for a few minutes and then managed to get said twig to stand up correctly. Some good quality whittling must have ensued for this to happen.
All of this happened to a projected film about the reproductive habits of seahorses – natch.
Oh and then BSP came on. Opener ‘Atom’ did not quite have the impact it should due to a woolly sound, but by the time ‘Remember Me’ was pounding us things had got sorted. ‘Waving Flags’, ‘Oh Larsen B’, ‘Carrion’ and an outing for ‘Apologies to Insect Life’ were wonderfully executed, but the real stand out moment, once again (like the Academy gig earlier this year) was the instrumental ‘The Great Skua’: they’ve really hit on something majestic with this track and I sincerely hope they take the template further.
Sometimes it looks like the band members are going through the motions up there on the stage, but this reveals itself to be an illusion as the mayhem surrounding encore ‘The Spirit of St. Louis’ gets going – crowd surfing, balcony climbing, wrestling helmets and an eight foot bear which both grapples with band members and gets attacked by aforementioned heron model.
You know the sort of stuff.
(ok they didn’t play the latter, but I do love it so)
Orienteer yourself down here to buy.