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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 8, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 14
British Sea Power organic and intelligent at Neumos
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British Sea Power organic and intelligent at Neumos

by Jessica Price - SGN Contributing Writer

British Sea Power
April 2
Neumos


Fresh from their first U.S. dates in three years and a stop on The Late Show with David Letterman, British Sea Power brought their uniquely cerebral guitar daredevilry to Neumos on April 2 to a rabid but somewhat thin crowd. Since their Seattle debut at the Crocodile in 2004, British Sea Power's shows are never packed to the gills - a somewhat aggravating detail considering that if everyone who professed their love for British Sea Power actually bought tickets to their shows, they would be sold out every time. Regardless, the Brighton-based band never fails to deliver and appeared completely unfazed by the less-than-densely populated back of the room.

The intelligent anthems began with 'Who's In Control' from their newest release, Valhalla Dancehall. 'Sometimes I wish protesting was sexy on a Saturday night' is an unlikely lyric to get fists pumping, but that's the beauty of BSP: they've made a career of weaving lines like 'I wrote elegiac stanzas for you' and 'I'm a big fan of the local library' into energetic guitar pop. The band galloped through a set touching on all four 'proper' albums plus a handful of EPs and rarities. 'Apologies to Insect Life,' 'No Lucifer,' 'Blackout,' and the melancholy 'It Ended On an Oily Stage' - all fan favorites - proved the band to be in top form and as clever as always.

In line with their usual eccentricities, a fair amount of plant life and random foliage spiced up the stage, and two fake owls were strategically perched atop amplifiers. Multi-instrumentalist Abi Fry was lithe and barefoot; alongside guitarist Martin Noble's casual trousers-tucked-into-socks look, half the band were reminiscent of Dexys Midnight Runners, while brothers Yan and Hamilton were characteristically neat and straight-faced.

Valhalla Dancehall is the most authentic and inspired U.K. rock record released so far this year, and British Sea Power's performance at Neumos solidified their ability to inspire intense devotion. British Sea Power's curious venue choices - such as natural history museums and libraries - only makes them more of an anomaly in the world of rock music. Their raucous-yet-pensive sound paired with unconventional sensibilities set them apart. They wear their literary (and anthropologic) hearts on their sleeves and don't seem to care much about what else is happening in music - arguably a very good thing. Their approach, much like the plant life onstage, is much more organic.

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