“We’d like to thank the Manic Street Preachers...oh sorry, force of habit”. Going on tour with the Manic Street Preachers is quite a conventional, even questionable, move for British Sea Power, a band who tend to follow their own idiosyncratic path. However a side benefit to such supporting duties is that on days off British Sea Power will add in their own low-key gigs in smaller venues.
Said tour support is the likely reason why the next album – already recorded, mixed and named – has been put back to January 2011 for release. When BSP return to Manchester in February in support of that album they will be playing The Ritz. So tonight’s sold out gig was a good chance to hear how some of the new songs are coming along in a more intimate setting. When I heard the new songs - some finding their way on to last month’s “Zeus” EP – in the woeful MoHo Live back in April they sounded distinctly odd. Tonight (plus a similar encounter with the band at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds two weeks ago) shows that oddness is partly due to the relative newness of being played live but mainly down to the atrocious sound at MoHo.
I’m still not 100% won over by ‘Zeus’ live but enjoyed the ramshackle rowdiness of ‘Can We Do It?’ and if the first quiet half of ‘Bear’ suffered due to inattentive and chatty elements of the crowd the second half came good. But the stand-out new songs from the forthcoming album, sitting nicely alongside older material, were the rousing agit-prop of set opener ‘Who’s In Control?’ (previously called 'Pyrex') and the short and spiky ‘Stunde Null’.
A band having a day off with a low-key gig? Not at all. Tonight might not have culminated in band members crowd-surfing to madcap on-stage antics (guitarist Noble wearing a fox mask for the last song was it) but this was a fiercely energetic - and loud – performance leaving a sweaty crowd very happy. Please tell me - why are they supporting the Manics?
The Set List:
Sadly final song 'Fear of Drowning' was not played and replaced with a brief 'Rock in C' style jam.