British Sea Power - Salty Water

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Grog Shop, Cleveland, USA

After British Sea Power's roadies finished with the small chore of setting up the band's instruments, they quickly attended to the more complex task of creating the proper atmosphere for the show. The array of tree branches they used to decorate the stage were accompanied by wooden animals - including an owl, an eagle and a heron - which they placed atop each band member's amp. The night was far from just a visual spectacle however.

The band took the stage to "Men Together Today," the choral introduction to The Decline of British Sea Power. Yan, the band's frontman, kept his gaunt English frame in the spotlight for much of the evening, wielding his guitar like a Roman gladiator and almost beheading his bassist brother Hamilton on several occasions. Eamon, the band's fifth member, sported a hat that obscured most of his face and appeared onstage throughout the evening pounding a single drum with a stick, and sometimes with his head. But the near sellout crowd wasn't just there for a visual exhibition - it was there because of the songs.

"Spirit of St. Louis" was a manic ode to Charles Lindbergh, complete with fanatic yelps and screams from Yan. "Apologies to Insect Life" was a violent battle cry instead of an apology to anything. The two songs that shone brightest were "Remember Me" and "Fear of Drowning." The first was a passionate call for reminiscence, while the second was full of scathing criticism and lyrical wit. Both were perfect examples of why British Sea Power has been compared to the Smiths and Joy Division. As Yan swung across the ceiling of the Grog Shop during the show's final freak-out, "Lately," it was clear that nobody in attendance would forget the show.

With its set of brash and angular art-punk, openers Kaito provided a definite contrast to the headliner's more melodic songwriting. Frontwoman Nikki Colk instantly recalled Elastica leader Justine Frischmann. Her vocal barking and warbling guided her band through much of its latest release, Band Red. GoGoGo Airheart started the show off with a concise set of danceable punk rock.

Author: Jeremy Willets
Source: Free Times
Date: 6th March 2004

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