Live Review: British Sea Power and Electric Soft Parade

2 Nov

 

Concorde 2: Tuesday, November 1 2011

If, in 2001, you had been forced to choose which of these Brighton-based bands would be headlining Concorde 2 in ten years’ time, the clever money would have been on Electric Soft Parade.

As it was, they quickly clocked-up daytime radio support, Top of the Pops appearances and a Mercury Music Prize nomination before fading away, while British Sea Power have steadily gathered widespread critical acclaim, a dedicated fanbase and ongoing success.

It was a bit of a surprise, then, that it was Electric Soft Parade who seemed to be having more fun.

Here, amid the brotherly banter that flowed between Tom and Alex White, they reeled-off a classy collection of snappy and bouncy pop treats played with passion and panache.

From the fizz of ‘Start Again’ to the fuzzy harmonies of ‘Silent to the Dark’, they had the energy and enthusiasm of a new band, not one which was foolishly dropped by the mainstream music business.

It wasn’t a shock that British Sea Power were more intense, what was unexpected, though, was the hit and miss nature of their set.

The rallying call of opener ‘Who’s In Control’ was a polished, impressive start, with darting strobe lighting and plumes of smoke accompanying lines like “I wish sometimes protesting was sexy on a Saturday night.”

Later, ‘Remember Me’, complete with careering guitars and crashing cymbals, was bang on the money, but too many other tracks failed to get the pulse racing and blurred into a seething mass of distorted chords, muffled vocals and screeching riffs.

For a band famed for navigating uncharted waters with their influences, independence and eccentricity – they used to struggle to fit on stage because of the foliage and stuffed animals which were given pride of place – it was strange that this show was more workman-like than wonderful.

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