The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


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

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2008 - A comprehensive guide to recording an album, written by Andy Knightly (the guide is spread over 4 parts).