British Sea Power are a genuine era defying proposition, and not only because they charged £6 admission, or £8 including a copy of their just released new album for this show. Their whole aesthetic, including that glorious name, (Elbow's Guy Garvey has said it's the best name in history) is counter-intuitive to the accepted norms of 21st Century pop culture, and that dear reader is a rare and noble thing, and none too easy to pull off. Like the Flaming Lips, who just happen to be massive fans, BSP create a parallel universe, transporting us to a time and place entirely of their own making.

Looking like they've just walked off the set of 'Chariots of Fire', with an innate beauty and an appealing symmetry, thanks to the centre stage presence of brothers Yan and Hamilton Wilkinson, BSP open with the first three tracks from new album 'Valhalla Dancehall'. A gallant move given that the album is just three days old and most of us would not have heard these songs before. At least half of tonight's set is taken from the new album, but, ensconced in BSP world, the band exhibit a delightful confidence, taking us to hitherto unseen pastures. The remainder being plucked from earlier albums ranging from the band's début 'The Decline of British Sea Power' (2003), to the last non soundtrack release, 'Do You Like Rock Music?' (2008).

With guitars, cornet, keys and the delectable Abi Fry on viola (have you ever seen an unattractive strings player?) BSP can make an anthemic noise. Comparisons to Arcade Fire are not without substance, but, however, in fear of stating the bleeding obvious, BSP largely hail from the south of England not the suburbs of Montreal, and their brand of anthem reflects this. The new songs sit easy with the more established tunes. They're not a great departure from earlier records. Nonetheless, tracks like 'Who's In Control?' and 'We Are Sound' will ensure the continued strength of British Sea Power's fleet.

And, as a very dear and sweet friend insists, “they go walking on the South Downs”. You have to love 'em for that alone.

Set List:

Who's In Control?
We Are Sound
Georgie Ray
It Ended on an Oily Stage
Waving Flags
Great Skua
Stunde Null
Thin Black Sail
Mongk II
No Lucifer
Observe The Skies


Apologies to Insect Life
Remember Me

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Commenting On: Hippodrome, Kingston, 13/1/2011 - British Sea Power

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