Friday, 19 April 2013

Live - review and pictures: British Sea Power - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London 17/4/13

As you might know, British Sea Power are playing two sets each night on their current tour, with a support band in between. The first set is not exactly acoustic, but features quieter and rarer tracks as a gentle way to ease into the evening.

For the Shepherd's Bush show I was pleased that they'd dropped 'Hail Holy Queen' which they'd played on some previous shows, but is my least favourite track from 'Machineries Of Joy'. Instead we got five great tracks, including a track from 'Man of Aran', a 'Remember Me' B-side and my second favourite from the new album. Here's the setlist for the first part of the show:

  1. The Land Beyond
  2. Come Wander With Me
  3. Blackout
  4. Salty Water
  5. What You Need The Most

Sandwiched between the two BSP sets were hipster favourites Toy. With their long fringes and equally long songs they make a goodly noise, even if all of their songs seems to follow the same formula - 3 or 4 minutes of singing followed by a 5 minute instrumental freakout.

The tale of two sets then turned into a tale of two bears as BSP commenced the main part of the show. There was an early appearance for the big bedraggled brown bear (almost 9 years to the day since I first saw the band, and the bear, in the same venue). An opening salvo of 'Remember Me' and 'Apologies...', followed by new track 'K Hole' (which sounded much better live) set the scene for a great mix of hits, favourites and newbies.

There weren't that many visuals, but the bird footage for 'The Great Skua' was particularly effective. There's something about British Sea Power, especially seeing them live, that makes you feel somehow grounded to the Earth (in a good way) - the songs, the visuals, the performance all come together to create something that feels bigger than its parts, an almost primal energy emerges and you feel connected to the elements. God knows what would happen if they ever played in the middle of Stonehenge...anyway, it wasn't long before the luxurious new gleaming white polar bear took to the stage, dancing gingerly round Noble.

Despite the evidence to the contrary in this picture, Yan didn't actually sport a pair of antlers during the show - they were on top of the amp and somehow got into the picture.

For the climactic encore we were treated to an outstanding version of 'Lately', complete with mass crowd singing and both bears - I couldn't work out if they were dancing or fighting, but they were having fun anyway.

Noble ended the evening wearing flying goggles and being eaten by a bear - just a standard night out then!

Here's the setlist for the main show:
  1. Remember Me
  2. Apologies To Insect Life
  3. K Hole
  4. Bear
  5. Spring Has Sprung
  6. No Lucifer
  7. Mongk II
  8. When A Warm Wind Blows Through The Grass
  9. Machineries Of Joy
  10. Waving Flags
  11. The Great Skua
  12. Please Stand Up
  13. Radio Goddard
  14. The Spirit Of St. Louis
  15. A Light Above Descending
  16. Carrion
  17. All In It
  18. Loving Animals
  19. Lately

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