Monday, 12 June 2017

Memories of 2017 gigs #5

Public Service Broadcasting
Ebbw Vale Institute, Ebbw Vale - 9 June 2017

When Public Service Broadcasting first came to my attention, I thought they were a neat idea. A neat idea with some good songs, in fact. But maybe they were a bit of a novelty. How far could they take this concept and remain interesting? They seem to be answering that question with relish.

This was our fourth time seeing PSB, and it was a rather special show. The band is about to release its third album 'Every Valley'. Its theme is the rise and fall of British industry and its effects on our communities. It takes coal mining in South Wales as its main reference point so they based themselves in the valley town of Ebbw Vale to record it, kitting out the main hall of the Ebbw Vale Institute to use as a studio. As the album nears its release next month, PSB returned to that very space to play two exclusive preview gigs. Only 200 tickets were on sale for each night with a proportion reserved only for locals. They were difficult to get hold of but luck was on our side and we nabbed a couple for the second night.

The EVI used to be a working man's club for the mining community. Now it's a community centre whose main hall is ideal as a music venue. The stage is nice and high at one end and it has a bar at the back. It's small and it looked rather cramped onstage - especially when the three-piece brass section stepped up to join in - but that seemed to add to the special, intimate nature of the show. And it was hot. Very hot!

Now, MrsRobster loves Public Service Broadcasting. Like really REALLY loves them. The only other band I've known her have this much love for was R.E.M. So this is a pretty big love we're talking about. That said, what could they do keep her adoration? Well, like previous outings, PSB tried some new things. The biggest surprises of all involved reluctant frontman J. Wilgoose Esq. Not only does he actually speak to the audience now (as opposed to playing pre-programmed computerised messages), but he sings. Yes, sings! His English vocals duet with the beautiful Welsh words of Lisa Jên Brown of 9Bach who joined the band onstage for You + Me.

This was one of a number of new songs played for the first time. Singles Progress and They Gave Me A Lamp will undoubtedly be among the highlights of their autumn tour alongside more established tracks. The thing with these new songs, particularly in this area of the country, is that they will resonate with a lot of people affected by the issues they raise. The South Wales Valleys, along with other big industrial areas of the UK, continue to suffer the effects of successive Conservative governments' attempts to kill British industry, selling it off to the highest bidder and screwing all those left behind. It's still happening now with steel just down the road in Port Talbot.

But it wasn't all about the new stuff; established favourites were also given a fresh airing. Spitfire, Everest, The Other Side, Gagarin and Go! all sounded spectacular, the latter prompting the now familiar crowd sort-of-singalong during the chorus.

So is it safe to say Public Service Broadcasting are no longer a novelty? You could argue they never were. They seem to pull a new rabbit out of the hat whenever they make an appearance and this was no exception. And MrsRobster? Well, she gets a little over-excited sometimes and starts babbling like she's on drugs. She reckons she had a moment of clarity during the show and thinks all of PSB (including their brass section) should be the next Dr Who. Like all of them together. Yeah, it was probably the heat.

"I've never seen them and not loved them," she told me after she had calmed down. She was clutching an unopened bottle of Every Valley ale (on sale at the show) as a souvenir. Stone-cold sober and drug-free yet still on a high. A cold shower and a lie down should sort her out...

Here's a piece about the new album which also includes the video for Progress.

1 comment:

  1. This is a cracking post...I always think of Neil and Chris when I see PSB in a music post rather than this particular foursome.

    I'm sorry to say that despite a few folk making positive noises about Public Service Broadcasting, I have never invested any time or energy in checking them out.

    I only know the track 'Spitfire' (it may even have been a download from your place a while back). I don't mind it but it kind of washed over me a bit. Maybe what's needed is an ICA...from Mrs Robster??