Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Live Review: British Sea Power @ Satellite Ballroom, May 7

I have to admit, in a way I take it for granted that a British Sea Power show will be ridiculously good. Having already seen the thinking person's indie band several times before, I wasn't concerned in the least about being entertained. After all, even if the music wasn't delightfully thought-provoking and charmingly quirky, how could you not love a band who brings foliage and stuffed owls on tour with them? True, neither foliage nor taxidermy was featured on this tour, but nevertheless, the show was as solid as I expected, and perhaps even better than I had hoped.

There was a bittersweet feel to the show, as the tragic and outrageous closure of the Satellite Ballroom in favor of yet another CVS at the end of May hung heavily in the air. But once British Sea Power took to the stage, all was well, if only for a little while.

BSP took to the stage to the strains of the opening track from their most recent album, Do You Like Rock Music?, "All In It." The band opted for a more modern sartorial look than I had seen them in before, mixing their traditional turn-of-the-century peasant garb with contemporary pieces like a defaced Spongebob Squarepants tee (as seen on Yan), and a nurses' top (as modeled by Hamilton). As the tour was in promotion of the latest record, the setlist pulled heavily from there, but included some older treats such as the early, non-album track "The Spirit of St. Louis."

Not only is this a truly smart band, they're also rather good at the whole playing music thing. Song after song the band showed their adeptness at their respective instruments, with Yan and Hamilton switching off on bass anf guitar with great dexterity, and many a song being extended with mini-jam sessions and much rocking out. And, as is the mark of a great band, British Sea Power sound even better live than on record. I found it hard to believe it had been over two years since my last BSP show, yet they took up where we left off, which is being one of the most special live acts around today.

They sing of sea birds, social issues, and obscure historical events otherwise long-forgotten. They are a band of a different horse, a band from another planet, and a band like no other. I love them for being such smartypantses, and for rocking out with their brains out. British Sea Power is a treasure, but don't take my word for it. Go see them for yourself, and let me know how much you loved it.

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