Documenting great human achievements has resulted in another great human achievement; Public Service Broadcasting and their faultless creativity. Two years on from their Brixton Academy headline show, they graced the stage at another iconic venue of their hometown. Now with not just two, but three beautifully-conceived albums from which to pull material, they embarked on a musically and visually spectacular headline set. But before they informed, educated and entertained, we were treated to the alt-rock delights of Palace.
Palace released their debut album So Long Forever via Fiction Records last year. The band are a tight unit who honed their sound over the two years that led to the recording of the album. Based on their live performance at Hammersmith Apollo, it seemed that any rough edges had been smoothed out. Lead vocalist and guitarist Leo Wyndham is a terrific lead player able to mix tricky combinations of vocal rhythm and melodic guitar playing. This was most apparent as we were treated to latest single ‘Live Well’ but the band’s consistency stayed intact throughout. Their ethereal reverb-soaked sound did, at times, hit you as a cacophonous wall of sound. But the likes of ‘Have Faith’ and ‘So Long Forever’ stood up well to the test of a large theatre.
Public Service Broadcasting is, in my opinion, one of the greatest band’s in the industry today. To create three consecutive of albums of such a high-quality is quite an achievement. But rather than blow their own trumpet, they prefer to highlight the achievements of others. Their latest album Every Valley documents the rise and decline of the Welsh coal mining industry. This means that the stage is dressed with traditional coal mining hoists which turn when they perform tracks from the album.
Whether it’s optimism or despair, PSB can evoke pretty much any mood through their music. ‘The Pit’ is an incredibly stirring piece which brings to mind the foreboding atmosphere which would have faced the miners. The more upbeat ‘Theme from PSB’ and ‘The Now Generation’ offered balance. This is when we needed some space-related material, which we received in the form of ‘Korolev’.
In terms of their Race for Space material, we were given the big hitters, all of which were just as powerful as they were in Brixton. They can all lift a crowd in their own way. The transmission from Apollo 8 on ‘The Other Side’ inspires a cheer, we all chanted ‘Go!’ together with the NASA control room and who doesn’t love astronauts dancing with brass musicians during the funk-infused ‘Gagarin’?
J. Wilgoose Esq. and co. seemed more confident and the performance felt somehow tighter than before. Wilgoose talked to the crowd in between songs and sang when Lisa Jên Brown took to the stage for the duet ‘You+Me’. Some Welsh language injected into the evening alongside messages of female empowerment (‘They Gave Me A Lamp’) and public anger (‘All Out’) helped to bring history alive.
‘Everest’ still proved to be a fitting anthem to close proceedings, together with some confetti cannons. However, the show wasn’t over as the band members departed the stage but sat in front of it to watch the Beaufort Male Voice Choir sign off the set with a moving performance of ‘Take Me Home’.
Public Service Broadcasting educate, inform and entertain but they also bring people together and champion the use of a wide variety of instrumentation and talent. The brass section was incredible all night, the visuals were stunning and each song was delivered with remarkable precision. If you ever have the opportunity to see PSB live, take it.
Palace was a fitting support act
PSB appeared more confident than before
Brass section helped lift the performance and the crowd
New material works well alongside the old
The BMVC finale was a nice touch