British Sea Power @ Leeds Met

Picture 34

Last week saw British Sea Power return to Leeds and while it was fantastic to head off to Brighton (where they are based)  last year to see them it felt good to see them touring again and returning to their Northern roots.  It’s interesting to think of place with some bands and how that links to their sound and British Sea Power are, for me, very much a band of place.  Firstly, they are and sound, quintessentially British in a way that say Band of Horses are not – both great bands but their sound is very much dictated by where they are from and in the Sea Power’s case this is a sound from the North, of country lanes, hills and hedgerows, mining communities and seaside fishing villages, yet lyrically they combine this music that is influenced by the past and often place it right in the present when looking at the treatment of economic migrants for example.  A complex trick to pull off but one that they do beautifully.

There is an element of complexity and thought throughout much of what British Sea Power do, be it playing at the highest pub in England, writing sound tracks to ancient film of Scottish Fishermen, eulogising bird watching or nods to cycling (check out the video to machineries of joy and guitarist Noble’s rainbow stripes) for example.  This is all well and good and could easily be dismissed as gimickery or perhaps wilfull uncommercialism but the consistently developing albums over the last 10 years and rip-roaring live performances suggests to me that it is not gimickery but creatvity that drives the band.

I have never seen British Sea Power play a bad gig and this one promised to be another belter with rumours of an acoustic set first followed by a full on cranked up set after the support band.  This of course meant that we all turned up unusually early to see what might go on before the support band and happily they did not disappoint by doing not an acoustic set but a warm up of some of their more mellow numbers.  The second part of the gig was not at first the full whig out that I was anticipating but more of a continuation of the warm up with the band producing lush, fully laden harmonies but concentrating on their slower numbers, albeit delivered with considerable power and passion.  Slowly but surely they weaved their way through old and new songs alike gradually building up the pace and atmosphere as if reading a good book before climaxing with All in It which brought on the bears !  Noble donned his flying glasses and I thought he was going to launch himself into the crowd for a bit of surfing as I’ve seen him do before but seemed instead to be quite happy grapplying with the bears.

It was good to see the Met pretty packed out for a band that happily plough their own furrow and I for one can’t wait to see how they continue to evolve, a trick that not many bands can pull off.  Never mind Machineries of Joy I think Machinations of Joy might be more appropriate for this compelling, complex band.

Huge thanks to fellow BSP fan Carl Milner for the fantastic photos.  Check out Carls excellent blog here


Middle Aged Moshing (aka Big Kids Should Know Better)

Photo Credit: Phil Dean

British Sea Power are well liked on this blog and have been watched many times up here in the North and Deano has blogged previously about heading down to Brighton to see one their resident Krankenhaus nights and Friday saw Phil, myself and Carl (from Milnersblog) head down to Krankenhaus 6 which promised much merriment and good tunes as BSP looked to bang out most of their singles.

Early start saw us down in Brighton for lunchtime where we pitched up at our digs for the night which was a room in seafront flat that had been organised through Air B&B , an interesting concept where you rent a night in someone’s house (effectively like posh couchsurfing).  Phil  had stayed at the same place previously and the owner seemed quite chilled about having us 3 lumps in the house.  It’s not something I’ve tried before but I’ll definitely be giving it a look again in the future.

Now I must admit I’m a huge Brighton fan (the scruffy Nice of Britain?) and have been many times but for Carl it was his first visit so there was plenty to soak up.  I think it has a great feel as a city, seems to have something going on no matter what your tastes and of course having a massive long promenade and beach aids the sort of ambling along stopping regularly for grazing that I like to do.  I also love the fact that they have left the hulk of the destroyed pier intact which for me perfectly illustrates that there is beauty in decay

Now my companions on the trip are very visual people and hot shot snappers but I feel that I humbly held my own with a couple of these  camera shots !  Although the weather was nowhere near the heat we have been having it was still comfortable to be sat outside, which we soon were with some lovely sea food and wine on one of the beachfront bars, it felt a long way from Leeds and in fact as we wandered around the city we all agreed that there was much that our home in the North could learn from the way that Brighton appears to be going about things.

We then headed off into around the Lanes and the Brighton Pavilion before a little bit more grazing

The final photo in the sequence was taken by Carl and you can see some more fantastic photos of the trip over on his blog here .  After heading back to the flat and nice chat with the owner the sun was setting so we headed out to the gig but I managed to capture another couple of shots along the front which I liked

The gig was at The Haunt which I liked as a venue, low slung ceilings that as you got nearer the stage opened up into a double height atrium which gave the band plenty of scope to add their idiosyncratic touches of decorations and the area was liberally festooned with branches and leaves.

Now I’ve done plenty of moshing (and the odd crowd surf) back in the day but I leave all that to the young ‘uns these days as I adopt my John Peel chin scratching pose on the sidelines and generally shuffle embarrassingly from side to side in classic dad dancing fashion.  However all 3 of us decided to bring some memories back and see if we could still cut it down the front and like riding a bike you don’t lose your skills as I quickly adjusted to the swaying, bouncing, colliding mass and managed to keep a watch above me for the crowd surfers ensuring that I didn’t suffer any boots to the face.  The band played an absolute corker of a gig and really seemed to be feeding off the energy of the crowd who likewise were loving the fun the band were clearly having.  I managed to stay front and centre the whole night which made for a tired walk back along the seafront although it was great to see all the people sat out chatting and chilling either waiting to go to the clubs or relaxing after their various nights out.

So I don’t think I’ll be heading back into the mosh anytime soon but it was great to feel that electric buzz again and connection with total strangers and friends alike who are joined together in those moments of enjoyment, thrill and belonging.  As well as the great shot at the top Phil also managed to capture these moments