British Sea Power / Film School / Sparrow & The Workshop – Fat Sam’s Live, Dundee – 10th October 2008
The British Sea Power bill at Fat Sam’s in Dundee turns out to be an entertaining three hours or so.
Sparrow and the Workshop are onstage when I arrive and the first thing that strikes me is how clear the sound is. Given that the last time I saw an opening band at Fat Sam’s the sound was awful, this is encouraging. S&TW’s mellow brand of Americana sets things off on a good footing and they prove they can noise things up successfully on the last couple of songs too.
Next up are Film School. There had hardly been anyone present for S&TW and whilst the crowd was starting to build during Film School the main floor in front of the stage is a no-go zone due to one exuberant punter flinging himself around. At one stage he throws himself at the crash barrier and somehow manages to prevent himself tipping over the barrier. The bouncers have seen enough and he’s ejected (eventually) which seems a little harsh although it has the benefit of allowing the crowd to occupy the floor in safety
Turns out the band are located somewhere between vintage Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth and their half a dozen songs are excellent. The only downside is that the vocals are buried somewhat in the mix but it’s not clear whether that’s by accident or design. I’m impressed so I buy the CD on the way out.
Which leaves the headliners. Worryingly the first couple of numbers recall Idlewild’s sound from a year ago with the guitars a tad muted to say the least. But that’s quickly rectified. Thereafter the show confirms my impressions of the band.
There’s loads of good, maybe even great, songs – ‘Lights Out For Darker Skies’ and ‘Canvey Island’ to name but 2. They can kick up storm, yet they have some nice slow burners (‘North Hanging Rock’). I’m impressed that they play the instrumental ‘The Great Skua’ from ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’. But overall I feel that the whole thing’s a little controlled. For whatever reason I suspect that I’m going to come closer to liking this lot rather than love them.
I ‘m dying for something a little more off the cuff. And then the encore just explodes into pretty much total chaos. This is sparked by the appearance of the BSP bear (in this case I think it’s Film School’s guitarist) and what follows is some crowd surfing on the part of the band (although the guitarist actually wears protective head gear!), the singer becoming friendly with his owl and then for good measure some handstands. All this time the band maintain a cacophony in the background (although since it seems to continue after most of them have left the stage there seems to be an element of backing tracks involved.)
It’s a spectacular end to the set. My only regret is that they couldn’t have sprinkled some more unpredictability earlier on but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my evening and come away with a new CD. That seems like a result.
Photos from the show here.
Glasgow review here courtesy of the Vinyl Villain.