Gig reviews

British Sea Power (live in Dublin)

Jan 21

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Monday, January 21, 2008  RssIcon

British Sea Power (live in Whelan's, Dublin)

Review Snapshot:  I should have known not to listen when a friend told me that I'd 'never see a better band live' than British Sea Power.  In my head I was expecting magic not seen since Maradona picked up the ball in his own half and thought to himself 'You know what?  I think I've the beating of that Peter Reid bloke.'  No matter what British Sea Power did on or off stage, I found myself thinking throughout 'Is this best live band I've ever seen?'  The answer, sadly, was no.

The Cluas Verdict? 5 out of 10

Full Review:British Sea Power
Having heard only snatches of British Sea Power's first two albums - The Decline of British Sea Power and Open Season - I got my hands on a copy of their latest album - Do you like Rock Music - only because the answer is yes, yes I do.  Unfortunately, I didn't like the album quite so much.

However, given the almost reverential tones in which my friend had spoken of the band, I was more than willing to give them another chance.  Sadly, they weren't the greatest band I've ever seen live.  Sure, British Sea Power can put on a show, but no amount of stage diving or stage invasions can take away from the fact that, well, the band makes mediocre music.  While songs about Eastern European migration and Swans dying from Bird Flu are conceptually interesting, in reality, they are just too unadventurous in their delivery to warrant the comparisons that were being made to The Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire, two words that will probably haunt British Sea Power their entire career.  Had the Canadians not come along and stolen their thunder, British Sea Power could well be the biggest band in the world right now.  Certainly they show that, when they want to, they can make exceptional music.  Songs like Remember Me show that British Sea Power were making epic music before anyone noticed the smoke coming from the back of the arcade.  Alas, somewhere along the way, dressing like medieval farmers and horn solo's from the second floor of the venue seem to have replaced making interesting music in the band's list of priorities.

The lowlight of the evening (aside from Halves, the support band who try so hard to be as experimental as Radiohead that they end up sounding like the noise that comes from your radiator as it heats up) is No Lucifer, proving - as if proof were needed after John Barnes' "rap" - that football and music don't mix.  The chant of 'easy, easy' - you know the one you heard Ricky Hatton's fans chanting before Floyd Mayweather went on to prove just how easy it could be - signals the start of this song and just when you are expecting something exceptional to save the song, well, not very much happens. 

Overall, for the casual observer, British Sea Power frustrate more than they fascinate.  I'm sure, because some told me, that there were those who really enjoyed this gig, but for me it showed two sides of the band: what might have been and what they've become. Theatrics and antics only get you so far when the strength of your songs can't match the pyrotechnics of your performance.

Steven O'Rourke


11 comment(s) so far...

Re: British Sea Power (live in Dublin)

Well worded, but evidently you aren't listening to the same album as the rest of us.

Saturday's show was a blinder. A truly monumental example of what music should attain to be: energetic, intelligent, and thoughtful, with a sense of fun. I think Stephen Fry would approve.

There is great musicianship in BSP's work. It's inspiring to see a band who not only enjoy their work, but enjoy being around each other. Such camaraderie heightens all musical expression.

Lights Out for Darker Skies, Atom and Waving Flags are some of BSP's finest moments. No Lucifer is still ringing in my ears and I haven't seen a Dublin crowd that enthused in 10 years of gig-going.

Sit down and listen to that album again Steven because I honestly believe that in another 10 years you'll appreciate BSP for the greatness you can't yet see.

By Erin Nova on   Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Re: British Sea Power (live in Dublin)

I appreciate your comments Erin and I agree with you when you say the band are capable of intelligent and thoughtful music, but "the energy and the sense of fun" (by which I assume you mean the on and off stage antics) actually exclude casual observers like myself from getting a feel for the band. I couldn't shake the feeling that there was just this "in-joke" that I didn't - and would never - get.

By Steve on   Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Re: British Sea Power (live in Dublin)

Such a shame because there is so much that BSP have to offer. I would also have to disagree with your comment about the support band. Halves were delicious. I was sceptical at first, having written them off as just another band from Dublin, but I must say that they won me over. I never at any point felt that they were trying to intimidate Radiohead, although if they were I might remind you that it isn't as easy as it sounds. One must recall the comparisons that were drawn between early Muse and Radiohead, yet the former has gone on to impress the world with some brilliant recordings. I think Halves have an ethereal beauty that is less Radiohead and more Mogwai in sedation, Godspeed You Black Emperor or a Warholian take on Sigur Ros.

By Erin Nova on   Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Re: British Sea Power (live in Dublin)

I have to disagree Steve. I wouldn't have called myself a British Sea Power fan after hearing their debut album, although I did enjoy it. However, upon seeing them galvanise a festival crowd like no other band I've seen before (TDK Central, Kings Cross, 2004) I realised their immense live potential. So it was with eager anticipation that I turned up to see the band at Whelan’s last weekend.
Could BSP perform to these standards every time? To regularly create the sort of bond with the crowd that I’d seen at Canvas all those years ago seemed impossible (and, according to fans, it doesn’t happen quite like that all-too-often). But, in front of my eyes, last Friday, the band turned in a performance that topped the previous gig I’d seen. Your comments about the pyrotechnics of their performance are valid, and the band beautifully broke down the barriers between performer and audience. However, to suggest they didn’t have the songwriting prowess to match seems to me to be way off the mark.
There is a newfound maturity in their material, with epic sounds and skilful arrangements. Overall, British Sea Power make the most sonically exciting guitar music I’ve heard. No Lucifer, the new single, is a brilliant piece of Revelation-inspired pop music, and the “easy easy” chant gives it the sort of catchiness and appeal that few intelligent, adventurous indie songs can easily achive. On the strength of this latest gig and resultant exposure to the new album, I can at last call myself a fan.

By GazCloud on   Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Re: British Sea Power (live in Dublin)

GazCloud, I reckon you could even go so far as to call yourself an employee :D

By aidan on   Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Re: British Sea Power (live in Dublin)

"Had the Canadians not come along and stolen their thunder, British Sea Power could well be the biggest band in the world right now"

"epic music "

and a paltry 5/10. What if you had went there not having heard your friends comments thus scoring the gig against that opinion? maybe 8/10, 9/10? Flimsy

I have seen BSP a couple of times, love their live show.


By PeterQuaife on   Thursday, January 24, 2008

Re: British Sea Power (live in Dublin)

My first time seeing them ... Like the first, really like the second ... Haven't heard the new one yet.

I enjoyed the gig alot, but yes, I did believe the hype & was expecting true greatness which didn't arrive ... instead I got a damn fine band, with a helping of quirk. A welcome addition.

By Mully on   Thursday, January 24, 2008

Re: British Sea Power (live in Dublin)

If I hadn't had to work late that evening or I'd gotten the bus up to Whelan's instead of walked they may well have received a different review/rating PQ. The fact is that my friend did say what he said, I expected what I expected and then saw what I saw. I only half enjoyed myself so 5/10 is a fair reflection of that. It is just my opinion, I don't claim it to be fact.

By Steve on   Thursday, January 24, 2008

Re: British Sea Power (live in Dublin)

firstly nice one erin nova itd be handy if worked as a journalist- thats a lovely description you wrote! sorry it wasnt your cup of tea steve (though i'd love to hear your radiator- sounds fantastic), i caught bits of bsp- i must say for what they are they are great. wasnt a huge fan before but they are one of those few bands who seem to write music with a live atmosphere very much in mind, very fun to watch. also lovely gents i'm happy to report.

By brian from halves on   Friday, January 25, 2008

Re: British Sea Power (live in Dublin)

Unfortunately extremely accurate description of the gig Steve, I went based on a handful of songs I'd heard on the radio over the years and the glowing write-ups in all the usual places. What a profoundly mediocre band and show - truly run-of-the-mill indie-shmindy. You're also bang on about bands relying on the jumping off the stage and drunkenly jumping around the place school of stagecraft, it just shows that the material ins't sufficient to hold the audience's attention on its own (see also Hype Like Apes). Halves were ok in a Young Scientists of the Year attempt to replicate Sigur Ros kind of way... keep writing the honest reviews.

By Emperor's New Clothes on   Monday, January 28, 2008

Re: British Sea Power (live in Dublin)

I wasn't at the gig but I also think that their music is unfortunately mediocre compared to the quaint quirkiness of their image (when your press releases are more entertainining than your albums, you're in trouble).

By Richie on   Sunday, February 03, 2008

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