Sunday 24 November 2013

Live Review: Public Service Broadcasting, The Globe Cardiff 21/11/2013

With a loose end at Green Man Festival this year I made my way to The Walled Garden Stage to catch Public Service Broadcasting. I'd still not yet heard the album but after listening to a few brief snippets on YouTube I thought why the hell not. To say I was blown away would be a bit of an understatement. For anyone who's not had the privilege of seeing the duo then to sum them up in to a few short words would be pretty much impossible. So undeniably fresh an innovative, there really is no one else like them. There's no question of doubt then that they've completely sold out Cardiff's The Globe tonight.

Supporting were The Joker & The Thief. And to put it lightly, quite possibly the best warm up act I have ever seen. With a unique set up on stage with the drum kit shared between lead singer and guitarist the band formed a compelling and raw showcase of talent. As the audience grew in size the warmth in their music really began to shine through. Many songs starting soft and quiet before ending in a climatic exertion. Switching between saxophones and accordion the musicianship on stage is a beautiful sight and as their crystalline vocals begin to strike a chord with the welcoming crowd their fruition really comes to life. As lead singer Dan belts out an accapella on a song described to be about a worm, the true passion and emotional taught becomes evidant, harmonious and all loving, his vocals are probably the most intense I've heard in a long time. Rounding up a fantastic performance that sees them bridge the gap so wonderfully between soul and Rock 'n' Roll The Joker & The Thief have most definitely earned themselves some new fans this evening.

By the time came for Public Service Broadcasting to take to the stage the room had filled up considerably. Everyone huddled together all eagerly awaiting their arrival as the inevitable heat at The Globe began to rise. Now one could assume the gimmicky nature routed within the fundamentals of PSB could begin to get stale fairly quickly yet handled with the care and witty charm presented before us J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth manage to keep things fresh. As the lights finally dim and a rather comedic intro video plays detailing the effects of Wafty Mobile Phone Camera Video Disorder the room fills with the ominous wail of air raid sirens. This evening they were joined by their live visualist known only as Mr B who done a stellar job in transporting us back 70 years through the use of archive footage. Cinematic would be a good descriptor as the chopped and sliced clips sync in beautifully with the audio. By the time the skippy synth notes and nostalgic banjo strings of Theme From PSB echo around the room small pockets of energy begin to spring up in the crowd as people jump around enthusiastically.

Decked out in his symbolic tweed jacket and bow-tie combination J. Willgoose, Esq. takes on the task of manipulating the synth elements inbetween punching out sound samples and switching guitars mid song. Quite the multi-instrumentalist. Wrigglesworth keeping the percussion on time. It's a few songs in before we get to hear the pre-recorded vocals (anyone who's seen them before will know that all the crowd interaction is done through these samples alone). "We've always wanted to play" – lengthy pause – "The Globe". I've always been a little worried as to where their direction will go after their debut album 'Inform - Educate - Entertain' but being treated to two new songs, both in Dutch and about ice skating as that "seemed the next logical step",  I'm fully reassured that things are safe. Elfstedentocht Part1 is heavy. Guitars and percussion crashing together in a head-on collision. Elfstedentocht Part 2 takes a more melodic approach. Blissful brazen guitars that form layer after layer of pure uplifting emotion.

Dowsed in nostalgia Lit Up proves to be their most moving piece yet. As the crowd sway through its melodic ambient synths the sampled recordings of Thomas Woodrooffe, Royal Navy lieutenant commander, provides for an affecting dialogue. As the trio return to the stage for a 2 track encore the evening is rounded up on my favourite, Everest. Bringing back memories of being stood in the Brecon Beacons with an unrivalled backdrop the heartbreaking rhythm shifts send shivers down my spine. "Two very small men cutting steps in the roof of the world". Humbling to say the least.

It’s elevating stuff, but there’s nothing too academic or highbrow about PSB's conception, maybe that's what makes it so accessible. It makes me wonder though how it's taken anyone this long to come up with such an ingenious idea. I'm just glad we have it now and I hope it's hear to stay.


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