Such Elegant Chaos – British Sea Power / Meursault live

British Sea Power / Meursault – Liquid Room, Edinburgh – Sunday 9th April

For a while it almost seemed like MPT and British Sea Power was something of a brief fling.

I’d been aware of the band for some time after hearing that they had worked with Bunnyman Will Sergeant but it wasn’t until third LP ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’ that I heard them properly.

I saw them live twice around that time (October 2008 and  September 2010) and both of  these Dundee shows provided evidence that BSP could be a phenomenal live act.

My interest though cooled a bit after that. I was a bit disappointed by follow-up LP ‘Valhalla Dancehall’ whereas there was no middle ground with ‘Machineries of Joy’ – I just didn’t get into it at all.

‘Bad Bohemian’ was the song off the new LP that brought me back to the fold and I’ve been enjoying ‘Let The Dancers Inherit The Party’ over the last couple of weeks. However it was only when Meursault were announced as support that I finally took the plunge and bought a ticket for the show.


Starting with Meursault, their set proved that getting an opportunity to play as support to an established band can be a mixed blessing.

On the positive side, the room was busy when Neil and co took to the stage (indeed heaving by the end of the set) but on the minus side, there were a fair few folk who weren’t interested in the band. At all.

It’s a fact that proportion of BSP’s audience are probably drawn to the band by the anthemic tunes and would toil with the more subtle approach of Meursault. But I had the real misfortune to get too close to a group who were far more interested in talking, loudly, rather than showing any consideration for the support band. Given that Meursault were performing without a drummer this was probably quite noticeable for a fair part of the venue and didn’t help me listen properly to the show.

Having failed to silence them with a glare midway through the set, Neil stopped the final ‘I Will Kill Again’ to ask them, very politely, to stop, although his appeal initially fell on deaf ears.

‘Oh no, am I going to get thrown out again?’ was one of the comments from the group when they finally realised that they were centre of attention. If it had been down to me …

But they were at least a bit quieter for the final song.

So not the best circumstances to enjoy the set which was mainly drawn from the new album. I’d been expecting a louder show after reading this review but the performance was very much in tune with the mood of the album and that’s certainly not a given when it comes to Meursault.

I enjoyed what I heard and all I can do is look forward to hearing them properly in better circumstances.

By the time British Sea Power took the stage, the room was packed so tightly I found it difficult to raise my arms. (And it certainly wasn’t helped by the guy with the backpack in front of me).

‘Who’s In Control’ kicked off things in fine style and proved to be one of the songs that really got the crowd going. It’s a positive for the band , I’d imagine, that songs from throughout their career fall into that category so that new tune ‘Keep On Trying (Sechs Freunde)’ provoked no less a response than a ‘Remember Me’ or a ‘Waving Flags’ (although I’ll admit that I do find the recorded version a little … annoying).

A decent portion of the set was given over to the still very new album and it was definitely a good sign that I recognised 8 of the tunes as being from the new record.

The show pretty much held the attention throughout although the quieter “Sunday section” was perhaps the set’s low point.

After being promised a near two hour set, I was surprised when the band left the stage with an epic ‘The Great Skua’ after just 75 minutes. Whilst the four song encore did stretch things past the 90 minutes mark it still seems to have been the shortest set of the tour for some reason.

The encore was entirely older material. The title track of ‘Machineries ..’ surprised me – if the record had sounded more like this version then I think I would have enjoyed it far more. But both ‘The Spirit of St Louis’ and ‘Carrion’ (which segued into ‘All In It’) fell into the fan pleasing category to bring the show to a fitting conclusion.

Overall impression is that BSP have grown as a live band since I last saw them – one short section notwithstanding this show was consistently good whilst the previous two didn’t manage to sustain the energy for the full duration.

One last thing. I’ve been to sold out shows at the Liquid Room before but I’ve never felt as uncomfortable as I did on Sunday. And they even let two fucking huge bears in!

For once it wasn’t an age thing – it really was packed out suggesting, at the very least, that when selling tickets, the venue hadn’t taken account of the fact that BSP brought their own mixing desk/sprinkler system which was actually taking up space on the floor of the room.

And it was also a surprisingly grey crowd. Whilst there were a lot of people who were probably ages with the band, there were an awful lot more who looked, like me, like they’d seen active gig-going service in the 80s. Nothing wrong with that, of course!

British Sea Power set list from the show.



  1. Really enjoyed another MPT review – just watching BSP set at the Quay Sessions, interesting and like BM said, a band who have gone up and down in my personal estimation over the years….cheers!

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