Public Service Broadcasting - Kazimier, Liverpool - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Public Service Broadcasting - Kazimier, Liverpool

by Steve Rhodes Rating:10 Release Date:2013-03-23

Wednesday night and a rare venture to Liverpool to finally get to see the excellent Baltic Fleet support the highly-praised Public Service Broadcasting. And what a gig it was. The venue itself, The Kazimier, is an odd, multi-levelled place, full of ornate furnishings and quirky décor. It's a venue new to me, but on first glances feels like it's been around forever. It is perfectly suited to the evening's entertainment and is pleasantly busy early doors for the opening act.

Led by Paul Fleming, former keyboardist with Echo & the Bunnymen, three-pieceBaltic Fleet use electronics, drum machines, bass, guitar and keyboards to produce beautiful, pulsing soundscapes, with a touch of melancholy, which envelop and light up the room. Though they are from industrial Widnes, the sounds they produce feel from much further afield. Devastatingly haunting opener 'The Winds of rhe 84 Winter' perfectly encapsulates this, using a neat mix of digital and analogue sounds with added percussion, and a fractured but feint guitar with a descending melody at the centre. Like Roll the Dice's 'Way Out' meets a restrained 65daysofstatic, it is a wonderful start to the gig.

The set is dominated by material from their second album Towers, with the throbbing, bass-heavy '3 Dollar Dress' from their eponymous debut a pleasant exception which translates expertly live. 'Hunting Witches' is intense and driving, taking nods from Ladytron and Magazine, 'Toire De' adds further, focused guitar squall from Mark McKenny in the style of John McGeoch to a pulsing Neu!-meets-OMD backing, and 'The Woods' is a soaring, stomping finale that seems to find the perfect middle-ground between Fuck Buttons and Nine Inch Nails' 'Closer', particularly in the programmed drums and keys. A brilliant half-hour spent and a band worthy of seeing over and over again.

So how could Public Service Broadcasting follow that? Well, they did and with plenty of aplomb. The stage itself gives a hint to the nature of their live set, adorned with a whole host of retro monitors and projectors, with just Apple laptops pointing to modernity. The band emerge during the luscious pre-recorded instrumental 'Qomolangma', cementing the retro theme by being dressed like they're on the 1970s' Great Egg Race or Look Around You, but without the white lab coats.

The band use a huge amount of samples and visuals, with one member filming the others on a vintage camera on a couple of songs, but the main focus is on instructive early 20th Century British public information films in the sampling. Added to this is a nice range of live instrumentation with guitar, drums and electric drums, keys and electronics at the forefront, but also unusual pieces, such as an effective banjo on 'London Can Take It', theremin on the opening of 'Dig for Victory' and Mogwai-esque vocoder in a number of places.

Though the band have been going for only a couple of years, they feel quickly at home with the surroundings and produce a confident and energetic set which is lapped up by the heaving and receptive audience. The confidence is clearly shown on two self-referencing songs: 'Theme From PSB' and 'Inform-Educate-Entertain', the latter of which is clearly a motto for the band in their relationship with their audience, which thankfully falls short of patronising and parody. Humour is a also a key asset. The band don't speak throughout the performance but instead use a sample on the keyboard to say hello, thank you and "It's great to be back in....... Liverpool", the deliberate pause on which sends a chunk of the crowd into hysterics.

Though some may accuse Public Service Broadcasting of gimmickry, they are compelling, tight and show strong musicianship, possessing plenty enough variety in their set to keep the audience enthralled. 'Signal 30' uses direct and bludgeoning guitars and intense, crashing drums to great effect, while the Errors-meets-Can 'Spitfire' in particular gets a great reaction from the crowd, with a looping guitar-riff taking centre stage.The hypnotic and uplifting 'Everest' is a perfect closer to the set, but it's 'Night Mail' that's the highlight of the evening. Using WH Auden's poem 'Night Mail' as its sample base, it is jam-packed with rolling drums, spacious and towering shredded guitar samples and enveloping keys, building from inauspicious beginnings, with J Willgoose Esq adding frenetic guitars along the way, to a roaring climax.

Tonight was one of the best gigs I've been to in a very long time, with an excellent performance in a great venue from two bands who, while sharing a kindred spirit, are very different live. While their releases are strong (Baltic Fleet'sTowers is the album highlight of last year for me), these are two acts that simply have to be experienced live. A joyous audio and visual experience from beginning to end, go seem them both and you're guaranteed to be fully entertained.

Comments (10)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I might try and get to that on my way out of the U.S. Nice one, Bob

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I might have the boxset to review as well if you fancy that?

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Yes ! That would be really cool. Right up my alley. Good wind down from the holiday ! Which continues for 4 weeks though, gratuitous I know !

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I'll be back into the writing with abandon then. I might even try a few more interviews, and retro pieces, after October, with your OK of course.

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I can give you an address in Colorado, where I'll be staying 22 Sep to 4 October, before meandering home

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OK cool

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The best Option is Rob Taylor, General Delivery, c/- US Post Office, 603 S Public Rd, Lafayette, CO 80026

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But please tell me when you post it, so I can gauge a delivery time

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It may be a download!

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even better

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