Shepherd's Bush Empire, 17 April 2013
I first stumbled across British Sea Power at the Reading Festival when on a 20 minute break from working behind the Workers Beer Bar. BSP had turned the small marquee into natural wonderland, with branches of trees and bushes liberally strewn around, every microphone stand adorned with leaves and flowers, and various stuffed animals perched across the stage. As they blasted out 'Apologies to Insect Life' I became an instant fan and missed half the rest of my shift.
I have seen them countless times since over the intervening decade and last night's gig was one of their best – getting close to the intensity of seeing them for the first time. I should really say last night's two gigs, because those arriving early doors were treated to a 7.30pm slow-song set, with the full-on rumbustious works saved for a second appearance an hour and a half later.
Last night I was mostly waiting for 'Spring Has Sprung', a beautifully upbeat track of their new album, whose release finally heralded the arrival of sunshine to Britain's shores last week (and was the subject of a recent markontour blog). But there were so many highs in addition that there's not enough space to eulogise. Suffice it to say that this is a band that have managed to write everything from a stirring song about the impact of climate change ('Larsen B') to festival friendly chanters like 'Waving Flags', have variously championed John Betjamen's poetry, saving libraries, dark skies, the joys of cycling, and Cumbrian wrestling, and found time to produce a stunning soundtrack to the life-affirming 1930s silent film, Men of Arran.
And last night's gig also featured dancing grizzly and polar bears..