Kicking off the night are support act Goat Girl. At times they sound like an indie band, coming in somewhere between The Arctic Monkeys (and not just because they have an animal in their name) and The Breeders (and not just because they have a token male band member) At others they sound more like one of these modern garage/psych bands. They feel like they are less ramshackle than someone like Hinds, although that also means they lack the Spaniards exciting unpredictably. That’s not to say that they aren’t exciting - the drummer has a toy chimp and some plastic bones on her drum kit and at times she hits them with the ferocity of the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey. To prove their garage rock credentials, they even have a song that sounds a bit like Egyptian Reggae by The Modern Lovers. I thought that their best song was Cracker Drool with its refrain of “we all feel shame”. Oddly, their penultimate song is a cover of Tomorrow from the musical Bugsy Malone. Note to all bands, if you are going to cover a Bugsy Malone song, make it We Could Have Been Anything That We Wanted To Be.
British Sea Power are one of those bands that are possibly too interesting and intelligent for the mainstream but they engender love and devotion in their band of hardcore fans. To underline the point, their last album Let The Dancers Inherit The Party was crowdfunded and when they played an instore gig at Rough Trade to celebrate its release the crowd queued round the block. And unlike a lot of the blander chart acts, they have a foliage roadie who runs round before the gig attaching bits of trees to microphone stands.
The early part of the set features a lot of the newer songs including Saint Jerome, Bad Bohemian, Praise For Whatever and The Voice Of Ivy Lee. There are a smattering of older classics too, most notably It Ended On An Oily Stage from second album Open Season and Machineries Of Joy.
Then the boots come off. Literally in the case of frontman Yan as he kicks off his desert boots. The band strikes up the “easy, easy, easy” refrain from No Lucifer and the crowd steps it up a notch just in time for the arrival of the dancing bears. Just to explain, British Sea Power have people dress in massive bear costumes, one black, one white, who then come and dance out in the crowd. During Remember Me, the polar bear even went crowd surfing, although I’m not convinced it was entirely voluntary.
The run of sing-a-long songs also includes Keep On Trying (Sechs Freunde) and only British Sea Power would take the chorus of one of their singles, change it to “keep on drying” and put it on a tea towel at the merch table. Early single Carrion closes the set and features on Hendrix-esque guitar from Noble as he plays with his teeth.
There’s very little interaction with the audience but they don’t need to, This is a crowd that is already eating out of their hands. In fact they would probably have been happy if BSP had just played their Man Of Aran soundtrack. They are even happier at an encore that features Waving Flags and The Great Skua. And after more than 90 minutes of music, they’re gone into the night, clutching their discarded shoes, another great performance under their belts.