Arriving on stage at about 11:30 last night, British Sea Power looked like they’d just come in from a grueling hike up in the Cascades. Hamilton sported an orange rain coat and huge shit-kicking hiking boots, guitarists Yan and Nobel, though not wearing lederhosen, had their pants cinched at the knees along with knee-high socks. Everyone had scarves, flags or bandannas tied around body parts, or hanging out of pockets. British Sea Power know how to accessorize! In the past it’s been the stage that had the accessories, foliage ripped from trees or bird statues, this time it was to a lesser degree themselves.
British Sea Power are one of those bands that must be seen live to truly appreciate them. You just can’t get that wild half insane gaze from Hamilton, or dizzying heights of Nobel and Yan’s guitar playing and the massive mid-song freak-outs from the recorded versions. A British Sea Power show often makes you think that the songs are on the verge of crashing down, but don’t let the insane looks from the band or Nobel climbing into the balcony fool you, these guys are a total rock and roll machine and make you realize why you go to see a band live instead of staying at home a listening to the cd. The core band has augmented their lineup for the road with the addition of a viola player and keyboard/horn player. The viola player seems like a good idea on paper, but I could hardly hear her, only when there was no guitar could I actually hear the viola(This could have been where I was standing, as Neumo’s seems to have very spotty sound).
Last night was an amazing show, easily the best British Sea Power show I’ve seen. The set list was just about perfect, heavily favoring the new Do You Like Rock Music and their debut The Decline of British Sea Power. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the instrumental The Great Skua, displaying elements of Mogwai and Cocteau Twins, easily besting the album version. For me, the band’s early singles are the high water mark. Childhood Memories and Spirit of St. Louis, Fear of Downing and Remember Me setting the bar so hight that they’ve yet to actually deliver on the promise of their early work, though album number three DYLRM? comes close. All of the above songs were present and accounted for last night, save Childhood Memories. Spirit of St. Louis was especially sweet with the band going into one of their tangent freak-outs in the middle and then bringing it all back together with Yan yelping like a mad man Louis, Louis, Louis, Louis at the end. They Closed the night with Rock in A, which essentially is a frame for them to improvise, chanting, singing into their guitar pick-ups and climbing into the balcony from the stage which Nobel did with as much as ease as his inspired guitar playing. British Sea Power records may not be immediate to many listeners, but come and see them live and you will definitely ‘get it’. Go see them if you can, because they mightily surpass their recordings on a nightly basis.
Seattle’s very own undiscovered treasure, Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground started the night off in grand style. Playing select tracks from their record amazing debut, lengthening a lot of the songs out to really highlight the dub/reggae influences to their sound. I count every time I see these guys a privilege, and tonight was no exception. The middle band of the night was the white clad Colourmusic. My guess is that one or all of these guys went to art school, because they were all dressed in identical white uniforms, hell, even their amps were white. At first I thought they were a bit goofy, as in between songs, they would have a recorded voice come on and talk about the bass part for the next song. But as their set wore on, I was smitten by their geeky, hyper grooves and the songs with two drummers, interesting to say the least.