Friday, 27 October 2017

Memories of 2017 gigs #9

Public Service Broadcasting
Colston Hall, Bristol - 23 October 2017
Support: Palace

You're probably getting tired of me writing about Public Service Broadcasting. The stats suggest you were never that interested to begin with.

Don't care!

Public Service Broadcasting ARE one of the best bands around right now. Their records are intriguing and original, and their concerts are something of an event. We first saw them four years ago - twice - in tiny Cardiff venues, around the time of their first album's release. Both dates were sold out, the venues packed. Back then, just Willgoose and Wrigglesworth were onstage with their visuals guy discreetly lurking in the shadows, projecting the cleverly put-together film clips and effects that illustrate the songs onto a big screen at the back of the stage and a stack of vintage TV screens at the front. We've seen them twice more since in very different settings (read here and here).

On Monday night, we travelled to Bristol to see them for a fifth time at the Colston Hall, one of our favourite venues. I had a feeling it would prove to be the perfect venue for PSB, and I was proved right. And my, how they've grown. The venues they're playing now are considerably larger, accommodating 10 times as many people - but they're still selling them out. The line-up is also greater; as well as the two mainstays and the visuals expert Mr B., they now have a full-time fourth member JF Abraham and a touring brass section (more on them later). The visuals and lighting are more ambitious and high-tech than ever too.

The show's intro music is David Bowie's Sound & Vision, an apt description of what is to follow. And what followed was 90 minutes of extraordinary sound and vision from a band I never grow tired of watching. Personal highlights for me were plentiful. The Other Side, the story of Apollo 8's manned mission to orbit the moon, was stunning. The bit where signal is lost with the spacecraft and mission control - and us - await to hear from the crew as they emerge from the other side of the moon is spine-tingling. There's near silence, the audience rapt and on tenterhooks as the tension mounts. From the new album, They Gave Me A Lamp was wonderful, the band joined onstage by Haiku Salut, the trio who provide the vocals and accordion on the record. All Out, the one about the miners strike, is a right rebel rouser. When the female voice utters the words "I was brought up to respect the police. I don't respect them now," I always smile. I don't know why.

For me, the biggest high point was the encore. The band emerged onstage with none other than James Dean Bradfield of my beloved Manic Street Preachers in tow. He proceeded to deliver a stirring rendition of his contribution to 'Every Valley', Turn No More (see pic). MrsRobster, who was never a Manics fan (to put it lightly), was cheered up by the next song. Gagarin was the moment on 'The Race For Space' when PSB got funky. The brass section shines on this one, especially when they launch into their impressive dance moves before being joined by two more dancers in spacesuits. This was the real fun moment of the set, although in truth, there's nothing that isn't fun about a PSB set.

It's been great seeing a band mature from the days of small, sweaty, dank clubs to theatres and mid-sized concert halls in such a short period of time. They will continue to grow, I've no doubt, and maybe I'll still be writing about them despite no fucker reading.

Don't care!

No MP3s today. Instead, a couple of videos. First, I found PSB's performance of Go! in Leeds a few nights before the Bristol show:

And here's their latest single. Yep, the one with that Manics bloke. This was absolutely IMMENSE live.


  1. Great review Robster. I really enjoy PSB's music, though don't actually own any of it at the moment - I need to address that. The James Dean Bradfield tune must surely rank as the best thing he's been involved with for a very long time

  2. Haven't heard too much PSB but this impassioned review makes me want to investigate. Better start exploring!

  3. I care! One of my greatest regrets of the past 18 months or so is that I've not managed to catch this lot live, so your review of what I've missed I at the same time quite annoying and very much appreciated.

  4. "Don't care!"

    Make that your motto for going forward!