British Sea Power / Restless List / Eamon Hamilton
First up is Eamon Hamilton, performing the hits of Brakes (which he fronts) on an acoustic guitar. All very nice, but with at least one of the White brothers present tonight you can't help but wish the whole band were up on stage. I was expecting a collection of his own solo songs so this was an unexpected slot that although I can't quite see the reasoning behind, was pleasant none the less.
Restless List have been performing at lots of Brighton gigs for a couple of years now with their own instrumental Battles style electronic guitar music. The set hasn't changed much in that time, and they've yet to really take off or garner any attention outside of the city. As I've said in previous reviews, I'm generally not a big fan of music without vocals to grab my attention and whilst Restless List give it a good shot I still find it hard to get excited about.
I've been following British Sea Power for several years now, always enjoying their ramshackle live performances built around their extended jams usually involving much stage diving and general stupidity. However with the release of their third album Do You Like Rock Music I find things have changed slightly. Where previously their albums had just a couple of radio friendly tunes, here we have a tight collection of songs, equally as melodic and charming as the last. That's not to say these songs are light or accessible, they still take several listens before they've burrowed into your brain and you can truly appreciate them. This album gives them a great arsenal for their live shows. The setlist is worthy of the high quality and experienced indie rock band they have become. Which in turn makes this by far the best performance I have seen them make. "No Lucifer" and "Canvey Island" being just two of the many standout new tracks performed tonight with the same intenseness they've always had together with a new tightness that sucks you in in a way few bands can. No doubt some may lament the move into what they consider a more "mainstream" approach, but I don't think this is actually the case. They still retain the eccentricity they're so famous for and the encore descends, as always, into a little bit of madness. This was the first gig for the returning drummer Woody, who slipped a disc whilst picking up a dustpan and brush, and Phil Sumner, who was much more rock and roll having been knocked out after stage diving earlier in the tour. So this was the only chance so far to see the new set played the way they really wanted it and they were clearly making the most of the opportunity with the local crowd on top form and highly appreciative. Tom White of ESP and Brakes had been stepping in on drums, and joined the band for the encore which thankfully only involved carefully planned stage diving. And fans of the band will be pleased to hear the bear also made a late appearance, just showing that whilst things may have changed up a gear, they are still the same great band they've always been.
Words by Alan Smith, photos by Steve Bateman - read Steve's interview
with the band and see more exclusive pix here.
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