Thursday, February 28, 2008

British Sea Power - Live @ The Echo, Los Angeles 2/27/2008 Review

What happens when you mix an overuse of power strips, UK voltage rated rated electronics, and a bit of spilled water? Aside from fried amplifiers, you get British Sea Power playing to a sold out crowd at The Echo last night. Despite every member minus the drummer having either a partial or complete equipment failure, the guys and gal from Brighton improvised enough to keep the tired crowd singing and dancing well after midnight.

What was already a late Wednesday got even later when BSP's sound check reavealed a faulty MIDI device in keyboardist Phil Sumner's rig. tick. tock. 11:45 rolls around and the Modest Mouse'y intro All In It off their recent release Do You Like Rock Music? is played over the house system. The group takes the stage. The violin has no power. tick. Then Noble's guitar has no amplification. tock. tick. tock. Sumner started the arpeggiator on his MicroKORG to make the delay feel less awkward as Hamilton did a somersault into lead singer Yan. Finally, a major piece of Noble's pedal board was found to be the culprit and amputated.

One Potential Problem

After what seemed like a year on the ocean, the band dove into the driving yet lush Lights Out For Darker Skies. One song down, the show had begun! But wait, "We seem to be having a problem with the Marshall's electricity." TICK. TOCK. TICK. TOCK. While the blame was being placed on all unsuspecting Brians in the crowd ("Anyone in here named Brian? you? This is your fault."), BSP's roadie concluded that the amp was dust. In keeping the show moving, a group huddle concluded they could at least play Spirit Of St. Lois with one guitar. In this extended-let's give the tech more time-version, Noble walked to the back of the club a la Tim Harrington while Yan anxiously kept one eye on the red power light of his amp-which never came back on. Another single guitar song followed-the spastically awesome Apologies To Insect Life.

The roadie (why do all British bands regardless of size have roadies??) finally tracked down a puny Epiphone combo and put it in place of the Marshall head. Well, you make do when ya need to make do. Commonly heard between songs: "Pete, this monitor isn't working. I just put the microphone on it and nothing." And so the show went.

It was hard to keep the chi pulsing through the fixated crowd during these extended breaks. At 12:30 in the morning even the most seasoned night owls can only hoot so long. Yan sarcastically remarked under his breath "There's a lot of energy in here". Sorry Yan, we know you tried. Blame the Echo for not catering to British Sea Power's um...power needs.

I didn't get a chnace to see the set list, but if the equipment failure was the only reason BSP played those two songs, it was well worth it. Not to discount Do You Like.. but there is a level of energy associated with their earlier material that the new album doesn't quite reach. Waving Flags was the crowds sing-along-anthem of the night and was placed rather nicely in the middle of the set. I always prefer a surprise closer than the radio single you know they've been saving just so you'll stick around. Though my eyes were heavy I'm glad I stuck around to hear their last song which was the fist pounding No Lucifer.

No doubt, the band made a trip to the hardware store today to pickup up some voltage converters for the Spaceland show. I only wish I wasn't so tired from last night's that I could sail once again.

pre-Marshall Melt Down

The Fab Four

Castledoor was absolutely enchanting as always. Imagine a slightly sprightlier/whimsical Arcade Fire minus the Canadian accent. They are definitely one of the best acts in LA right now. It is literally impossible not to love their song Magnetic Forces.

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