PUB­LIC SER­VICE BROAD­CAST­ING

Prog - - Take A Bow - CHRIS ROBERTS

If Pub­lic Ser­vice Broad­cast­ing have some­times sug­gested an air of fusty academia, all his­tory lessons and li­braries, tonight’s the night they shake that off. Reach­ing a ca­reer pin­na­cle by sell­ing out the Royal

Al­bert Hall, they fill it with colour, phys­i­cal­ity and even a dash of show­biz. By the time the brass sec­tion in gold se­quinned jack­ets are gy­rat­ing down­stage with two ex­tras in as­tro­naut suits, ex­hort­ing the au­di­ence to dance, there’s no deny­ing it: PSB are fun. In­tel­li­gent, in­no­va­tive and at­mo­spheric, yes, but also emo­tive and ex­cit­ing. They’re the lit­tle band that got big fast, but they’re us­ing the G-force to their ad­van­tage.

With tracks that marry krautrock-elec­tron­ica in­stru­men­tals to as­tutely judged sam­ples cap­tur­ing the hero­ism and drama of moun­tain­climb­ing, space travel and the fall of the South Wales min­ing in­dus­try, they’re not, on pa­per, a party band. Yet peo­ple have caught on to the adren­a­line rush in­her­ent in their sonic sto­ries. ‘A climber climbs with his guts, his brain, his soul and his feet,’ de­clares Ever­est. The band have re­alised the brain can’t make the sum­mit alone, so they’ve kept ris­ing. Tonight’s show sim­mers, then soars.

Dif­fi­dent ful­crum J Wil­go­ose Esq plays gui­tars like Michael Rother and key­boards like OMD, while the rhythm sec­tion of drum­mer Wrig­glesworth and bassist (and mul­ti­in­stru­men­tal­ist) JF Abra­ham bring flesh and blood to the high con­cepts. Abra­ham is key to the vis­ual el­e­ment, his highly mo­bile en­thu­si­asm a bridge to the crowd. Sure, the films (with rel­e­vant top­ics, from space mod­ules to min­ers’ wives) and light­ing are im­pres­sive, but to see mu­si­cians play­ing and hit­ting stuff gives the mood a heat you wouldn’t get with anony­mous tweak­ers stand­ing be­hind lap­tops. There’s a string sec­tion and in­ter­mit­tent cameos, en­sur­ing the Chem­i­cal Broth­ers-style elec­tronic back­drops sup­port rather than swal­low the hu­man­ity. Given that PSB’s cho­sen themes re­gard the best as­pects of hu­man­ity – courage, no­bil­ity, re­silience – that’s shrewd.

White Star Liner, from the in­vig­o­rat­ing new EP con­cern­ing the Ti­tanic, gets a Lon­don de­but. Oth­er­wise, the set swoops be­tween favourites,

“THERE’S NO DENY­ING IT: PSB ARE FUN. IN­TEL­LI­GENT, IN­NO­VA­TIVE AND AT­MO­SPHERIC, YES, BUT ALSO EMO­TIVE AND

EX­CIT­ING.”

from Ev­ery Val­ley to Sput­nik to Spit­fire. Tra­cyanne Camp­bell sings Progress, Haiku Sa­lut per­form They Gave Me A Lamp and Lisa Jên joins a bash­ful Wil­go­ose for the in­con­gru­ous bal­lad duet You + Me.

Ev­ery­one’s up and air-punch­ing for the cli­max of The Other Side and Go. Clearly a rush for the in­cred­u­lous South Lon­don band, it’s been an in­spir­ing, mo­ti­vat­ing night, co-opt­ing the dar­ing of the space race pro­tag­o­nists and the stead­fast pathos of the ne­glected Welsh com­mu­ni­ties. Then, as the ensem­ble de­parts, the Beau­fort Male Choir be­stride the stage to sing Take Me Home, and we learn how many coals it takes to fill the Al­bert Hall. Not a dry eye in the house. We’ve been taken to the other side.

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