Get Out More....................................Gig Review
Paul Samuels enjoys a top show by British indie stalwarts BSP at the Glee Club in the Arcadian Centre - and a bit of a bonus with a fine support turn by John and Jehn.
The Glee Club have a policy of shutting the doors after 8.15 . Which means, you get to see the support band. And I’m glad I did. John and Jehn are a French boy girl duo who’ve bulked up for this tour with an additional boy and girl.
They’ve got a Galaxie 500/New Order sound with a mixture of very clean, taut guitar lines, feedback and keyboards. They swap vocals and instruments. Jehn's vocals are a bit theatrical, John's are much more New York rock 'n' roller. Which is how we'd all sing if we were French and had relocated to London.
The final song had some of that early White Stripes chemistry/tension with Jehn slowly moving towards John as if she was about to put her head on his shoulder. Like a Status Quo gig if Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi were actually a couple.
I know a bloke who can’t bring himself to listen to the Who because “girls don’t like them”. On the other hand, Jon Bon Jovi (who is not my Who dodging mate) has said that he takes no notice of critics that say The Bonj are too lightweight. After all, girls come to his gigs and lift up their tops.
So who likes BSP? Well there’s a lot of them and it's a very mixed audience. I like them a lot, but I didn’t think they’re a band you’re going to fall in love with. I was proved wrong at the Glee though. There was measurable love and anticipation in the air. Not just pollen from the plant covered amps tended by gardeners rather than roadies. It felt like people had travelled to be there.
What BSP bring is cleverness, a broad, sweeping approach to lyrics. There’s nothing straight forward about them. They've got a whiff of moleskin and they look as if they’d be happier going to the Antarctic in dufflecoats and cable knit sweaters rather than following traditional rock n roll leisure activities.
There’s a bit of Bowie, or Psychedelic Furs in the vocals, a thick sound, a grandeur and songs that take in ornithology and Dostoevsky. After 3 albums of arty guitar Pop they released an evocative and oddly ambient, soundtrack to a 1934 documentary Man Of Aran.
No Lucifer has a terrace style “easy easy” backing vocal and references to Carlton Corsair and Raleigh 20 bikes, roe deer, the anti aircraft crew and the boys from the Hitler Youth. The stiff upper lip has got a potty mouth though. One of the new songs they play at the gig though has a chorus of “Over here, over there, over every fucking where.”
It’s a barnstorming opening 3 tracks. Apologies To Insect Life with it’s clicking bass, yelping vocals and a guitar that sounds like a quarrying operation. Guitarist Noble is dropping it from a very great height. In fact at one point it looks like he's brought his own stool to stand on. Remember Me and Atom just sound immense.
Singer and guitarist Yan is wearing a white top, part space suit, part strait jacket. Guitarist Noble is wearing a vintage cycling top that probably doesn't provide much in the way of breathability and sweat wicking. Bassist and vocalist Hamilton shuffles as if he is peeping coyly from beneath an standard issue indie fringe- which is actually a leafy crown.
He looks like he’s skipping band practice at Mount Olympus. Aby Fry plays violin and Phil Sumner adds keyboards, cornet and guitar as required. So for the new song (over here over there and over sweary there etc) there were actually 3 guitars powering away. Biff, Bang and Pow! BSP also like to swap instruments and take turns on vocals.
True Adventures sung by Hamilton has got an excellent bit where the rest of the band seem to slow down but the drums speed up. It sounds a bit like tape rewinding up and is the sort of studio trick that Lee Perry would stick on the start of a track.
Please Stand Up finishes with that rare beast – a section that sounds like a cross between Boxer Beat by Jo Boxers and New Order.
The Great Skua is an instrumental where Phil Sumner's cornet really comes into it’s own. It’s a great piece of music in it’s own right and much more than a bog and bar prompter.
The band seemed relaxed and confident. There was banter about it being the second comedy club they’d played on the tour and the perennial problem of careful and insightful lyrics getting in the way of the gags.
Final song Spirit Of St Louis soon departed from a recognisable song structure was either largely improvised or they were just making it up as they went along. There was guitar dive bombing, crowd surfing from Noble, guitars being beaten with bushes and I think there may have been monocle wearing too.
Despite the fact that new album is on the way they only played a handful of new songs, with most of the material coming from the last album Do You Like Rock Music. BSP are actually more accessible than their eccentric image suggests and are a terrific live band. Full marks to the merchandising. Who wouldn’t want a mug with a British Tea Power logo?
Apologies To Insect Life