British Sea Power - Salty Water

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Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, ONT, Canada

It might be awhile before Brighton, England's British Sea Power raise any sort of real racket on North American soil, but it certainly won't be long before our rock journalists will have their tongues sewn to the seams of these young lads' slacks.

Judging by the response from the band's Toronto audience, the sewing parties can commence.

As the lights dimmed at the Horseshoe Tavern, a stage decorated with twigs, leaves and guitar amplifiers looked like a scene fit for a Broadway re-enactment of Dead Poets Society. The sounds of Gregorian chanting ushered the five band members on stage, making the theatre comparison even stronger. "There's a fear of drowning/A little fear of drowning," sang guitarist/singer Yan, who sounds like a combination of David Bowie and Frank Black, as the band lunged into the chorus of their first song.

BSP dressed in the height of fashion, with socks pulled over their pants and bassist Hamilton wearing a tree branch wrapped around his brow. It's evident that this unit definitely exists in their own world. It's a world that probably involves repeated viewings of Kubrick's Clockwork Orange, playing Joy Division's Atmosphere on vinyl at the lowest speed and taking part in mad mushroom tea-drinking sessions. But then again, it's just a hunch.

The show, while still in its early stages, showed the band setting all their controls to "Weird," giving the feeling that they would morph into something closer to a lunatic act. Much like the literature that inspires them (apparently the band is big on T.S. Eliot and Czech lit), the foreshadowing that something strange about to take place was evident in Yan and Hamilton's deadpan stares. They briefly swapped instruments for a few songs and continued to maze through other tracks from The Decline Of British Sea Power.

With the ringing chords of "Remember Me" emanating through the speakers, keyboardist Eamon emerged from the left side of the stage and began pummeling on a bass drum while flailing around the stage like a wounded bat. The song, which seems to be an ode to losing one's mind, is echoed through Yan's lyrics: "Do you worry about your health?/Do you watch it slowly change?/When you listen to yourself/Does it feel like somebody else?"

It wasn't until the 15-minute epic "Lately" when hell started to really break loose. The song begins so delicately think of The Stone Roses' "Ten Storey Love Song" with a cacophonic rant in the middle but ends with a full-on Sonic Youth-esque guitar assault. This was a platform clearly set for a disturbing finale.

With "Apologies To Insect Life" ending the set, bassist Hamilton began swinging from the rafters and taking part in a series of chin-ups. Eamon continued the drum pounding and ran through the audience while Yan found himself with two microphones: one which he almost swallowed and the other used to unleash cat-like screams. When Eamon finally rested on top of Noble's shoulders, the rest of the group took part in a one-legged dance hobble, save for drummer Wood, who didn't move from his position, preferring to provide the soundtrack to the rest of the band's lunacy.

Needless to say, the show ended in grandiose fashion a bass guitar was dropped, making a loud bang, signalling the band's departure from the stage. A roadie and most of the crowd looked on in horror. None of us could believe what we all had just witnessed.


Author: Aaron Foster
Source: ChartAttack
Date: 3rd November 2003

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