Public Service Broadcasting - O2 Brixton Academy
With support from the ever brilliant French funk psychedelic trio Francois and the Atlas Mountains, the staging is gradually revealed. At first, it seems business as usual for Public Service Broadcasting, their customary staging of combining analogue TVs at the front of the stage, with larger screens at the back. There is a hilarious opening announcement concerning people filming the gig on their phones, the gist being that if you watch a gig through your phone you will lose all your friends and die alone, eliciting a massive cheer from the varied crowd. It’s not until the lights go out do you realise that tonight is going to be something a little bit different and special.
Opening with a live vocal choir performing The Race for Space opener ‘The Race For Space’, so hauntingly beautiful that you could hear a pin drop. From here, the group of J. Wilgoose, drummer Wrigglesworth, bass player JF Abraham, and visual wizard Mr B. take to the stage to kick off proceedings proper with their LED laden model of Sputnik unveiled during second song ‘Sputnik’ (you see what they did there), before launching into a raucous versions of Inform - Educate - Enterain's ‘Signal 30’ and ‘Theme From PSB’. Other highlights of the main set included ‘Valentina’ with live vocals from Smoke Fairies, ‘Spitfire’ with its epilepsy inducing light show, and finishing with ‘Lit Up’ replete with indoor fireworks cascading from the ceiling.
After a brief interlude waiting for the band to come back on stage, the two biggest surprises of the evening happen. Firstly, J.Wilgoose esq. (notoriously mute during performances except for pre-recorded samples) takes to the microphone to give his thanks to the adoring crowd and to introduce the 2nd surprise of the evening in the form of the voice of his pre-recorded responses. Replete in top hat and tails he proceeds to mock J.Wilgoose, and introduce the group and each song. The homecoming party atmosphere continues to take over in the encore with blinding versions of ‘Go!’ and ‘Gagarin’ with Wilgoose replete in a gold lame jacket (though still with brown corduroy trousers), dancing brass section, and astronaut backing dancers. It's fitting that the evening finishes up with fan favourite ‘Everest’ bringing the evening full circle – with JFK’s speech from ‘The Race For Space’ quoting Hilary’s Everest interviews – seeing off the evening with an indoor snow storm and a standing ovation from the crowd.
By far the highlight of the evening was seeing how a group of musicians sampling and looping to video footage could have so easily become a case of “I may as well have stayed at home, sounds exactly like the record”. Not so in the case of Public Service Broadcasting who managed to transform their records into an exciting, entertaining, cohesive, and exhilarating live performance.
1. The Race For Space
3. Signal 30
4. Theme From PSB
5. Night Mail
6. London Can Take It
10. If War Should Come
12. Lit Up
13. The Other Side