Considering Public Service Broadcasting‘s primary concept is recorded sounds and images, you can’t help but laugh at the irony of them being one of the best live bands to see at the moment.
Public Service Broadcasting’s live performance is very much ‘a show’; somewhere between performance, art and a gig. Similar to post-rock bands such as Mogwai and Sigur Rós, the visuals surrounding the stage are a backbone to the performance. Accompanying the band on stage was a model of a giant, 1960’s style TV set, with smaller TVs stacked on either side of the stage. The overall effect was more TVs in the band than people.
Adopting a Daft Punk style of robotic anonymity, the band didn’t speak to the audience. Instead they communicated using recorded voice clips; which sound somewhere between the samples they use in their music and Microsoft Sam. Despite the limited range of things the band could say, crowd interaction was still great. You found yourself quite happily slipping in to pantomime style conventions and cheering when the robotic voice said ‘We’ve always wanted to play in… Nottingham.’
Listening to ‘London Can Take It’ combined with footage of London during the Blitz made you want to collapse at the feet of Churchill’s statue and apologise for not paying attention in history lessons.
However, what was much more interesting about Public Service Broadcasting live was how emotive such a technical show can be. I don’t consider myself particularly patriotic, but listening to ‘London Can Take It’ combined with footage of London during the Blitz made you want to collapse at the feet of Churchill’s statue and apologise for not paying attention in history lessons. Likewise, ‘Everest’ made you think you might just get all that sublime stuff the Romantics went on about and ‘ROYGBIV’ made you want to convert to a pagan religion which worships colours.
Maybe the song performances weren’t quite as emotional as I make them out to be, but they certainly packed a punch. A definite highlight of the gig was ‘Everest’, played as one of their encore songs. By this late point in the show it seemed that the band, whilst playing their instruments, had become as absorbed in the broadcasting extracts playing as the audience were. So it was visuals and vocal descriptions of the Himalayas connecting to a passionately playing band and an awe struck audience. That’s the skill in Public Service Broadcasting; they’re in a pretty good limbo between the world of the recorded and the live, ‘real’, world.
…Ian has been listening to Jurassic 5 – ‘Concrete Schoolyard’…