British Sea Power - Salty Water

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The Mill, Mansfield, UK

Sir Winston Churchill once said "We will fight them on the beaches...", which in a parallel universe where Mansfield is a seaside town, could have some bearing on the air of antagonism seeping through the streets of this nondescript outpost.
Except of course, that dear old Winnie probably never paraded around number 10 dressed in a pair of Armani jeans and Burberry shirt, while you could never imagine him addressing his fellow cabinet ministers as "Gazza" and "Biffo", so maybe he was talking about a foreign land after all?

Now far be it for me to describe Mansfield as the place that time forgot, but looking around The Mill at the 150 or so punters it's clear to see they're eagerly anticipating something special, having been starved of any kind of live music scene for like, ever, which is good news for Mower, whose unbridled enthusiasm means that their largely forgettable and out of date Britpop sound is forgiven in an instant by a crowd who clearly haven't been this excited since Rock Bitch played down the road at Fat Sams in 1998.

Having been accosted on at least four occasions tonight by inquisitive mongrels asking me if I'm "a local" (to which their expressions match those of about to be castrated rabbits when I tell them I was actually born here!), the mouths around the room become further aghast at the sight of plastic owls, kestrels and geese randomly appearing on stage, not to mention almost half of Sherwood Forest adorning one of the mike stands, so much so that combined they could probably swallow the entire national debt in one humongous GULP.

Nevertheless, all these things go towards making British Sea Power one of the most enthralling live bands currently doing the rounds, comparable almost with scoring the winning goal in the Cup Final in the last minute of extra time, in fact.

Why, I hear you ask?

Well for starters, there's the singer, Yan, whose dilated pupils engage in an almost perpetual thousand yard stare that can only be achieved by regular doses of ecstasy tablets at least four times a day for the last five years, and has only ever previously been perfected by the Happy Mondays' Bez.

Secondly, the band's set, which is scheduled to last an hour, seems in danger of evaporating into thin air as they casually administer such crowd pleasers as 'The Spirit Of St. Louis' and 'Remember Me' early on, only to be bettered in the second half by the climactic 'Lately' and the frenetic 'Apologies To Insect Life', which shares the same kindred spirit as Manchester's criminally underrated Chameleons in its blistering riffs and seemingly whispered vocal.

Tonight is the last date of the tour, so to cap it all off British Sea Power engage in an half hour long jam which sees them trawl through Julian Cope's 'Out Of My Mind On Dope And Speed' and invite Mower onstage for an impromptu trashing session, before guitarist Noble emerges ceremoniously hoisted on the shoulders of one over-exuberant member of the audience.

Saturday 31st May 2003 will go down in history as the night Mansfield finally left its knuckledusters at home and let its hair down in the process, and if anyone had said beforehand that four blokes from Kendal would have been capable of achieving such a magnanimous feat, you'd surely have laughed out loud.

Author: Dom Gourlay
Source: Drowned In Sound
Date: 31st May 2003

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