British Sea Power - Salty Water

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Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, UK

This is British Sea Power's largest headliner to date. Fears that their intense live show won't translate to the big stage are quickly dispelled. OK, so the choir of 'Men Together Today' launching into 'Something Wicked' perhaps isn't the best intro, and it may initially seem like they are shooting their load by playing indie anthem 'Remember Me' so damn early, but it's the latter which starts the pogoing frenzy (this is not 'moshing', 'moshing' is something metallers do, not schmindie kids). Any slight dips in the set (including the pain in the ass back-lighting, which is thankfully extinguished early on) are far outweighed by all the meaty goodness a BSP headline show in front of 2,000 obsessive fans can provide.

This is the thing about BSP though; they glide so seamlessly from pompous, dark, proggy songs into 'Favours In The Beetroot Fields' and 'Apologies To Insect Life', which is the band at their absolute, more chaotic and hilariously tongue-in-cheek best. Yan dumps the guitar and grabs the mic, stalking the stage and audience before throwing himself in to the baying mob; Eamon in his tin helmet leaps from behind the keyboards with his snare drum, going crazy, seemingly not even looking where he's stumbling.

They follow that with the double-bill of singles-not-on-the-album, 'Spirit Of St. Louis' and the lost pop genius of 'Childhood Memories', which is truly orgasmic. Those new fans only with the album may have also felt a little left out when The Ecstasy Of Saint Theresa's Katerina Winterova joins the band onstage to aid along the vocals of original 'Remember Me' b-side 'A Lovely Day Tomorrow'. But all this just goes to show the wealth of strong material the band have amassed over their brief time together. The hero's welcome the songs get by the BSP old skool fanbase is testament to their hardcore following, and when it's this sublime, twisted and, let's not forget, TUNEFUL (the penultimate song and single 'Carrion' upping the ante again), is it any wonder they've gone from being the potentially 'nother-hyped-failure kinda band to the receiving-standing-ovation kinda band? Of course not.

The gig finishes with a man in a 10-foot-high bear costume appearing onstage from out of nowhere (OK, appearing from backstage), beating the shit out of the band, with the band fighting back - guitars are whacked over his head, some impressive fly-kicking is attempted - the bear limps off, outnumbered and defeated, and all the while there's unhinged Eamon again, up there in the seating area with his drum, stumbling into the darkness...


Author: Adie Nunn
Source: Drowned In Sound
Date: 29th April 2004

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