The secret of Public Service Broadcasting is now well and truly out, the sold out signs are going up on most dates on the tour currently in progress to support the release of debut album Inform-Educate-Entertain with Manchester being no exception, and for those trying to get tickets on the door they would be sadly disappointed.
With the unique sound created by Public Service Broadcasting on record I was intrigued to see for myself how the concept would transfer to the live stage and so joined the distinctly older gig crowd in the packed upstairs venue of what used to be the legendary guitar shop Sound Control. There was a definite buzz of anticipation in the air as the old BBC test card image was displayed on the large screen mocked up in the style of an old TV behind the stage and the two stacks of old TV’s on either side of the stage. It was clear this was going to be both an audio and visual experience.
The set kicked off with the album prelude of Inform-Educate-Entertain, a montage of the clips that make up the debut long player from the dapper bespectacled Willgoose joined on stage with drummer Wrigglesworth and a third member, Mr B, tucked away at the back of the stage providing the visuals. London Can Take It got us under way proper, a track with featured on the hugely popular War Room EP, with its dark undertones of blitz and banjo evocatively backed by images of the bombed out capital. Watching Willgoose in action is a sight to behold, effortlessly controlling the sound from a bank of keyboards and laptop using all manner of samples and loop effects whilst somehow also managing to play guitar and banjo with the whole sound underpinned by the drumming of Willgoose.
We were treated to a mixture of album tracks as well as those that only featured of the various EP’s that predated the album. Signal 30 being the most recognisable PSB track following much radio play went down a storm with its driving guitar and intense drumming providing a high octane ride whilst Dig For Victory was wonderfully atmospheric and melodic. The gaps between songs were filled with amusing techno-voice snippets such as “We’ve really been looking forward to coming back to……… Manchester”
Night Mail is one of my stand out tracks from the album and sounds wonderful live allowing you to get lost in the hypnotic piano and melodic minimal techno beat before a New Order style guitar solo takes over lifting the track to another level. Track of the night was probably Spitfire which got a huge reaction from the crowd who had clearly already bought into PSB and were revelling in seeing the concept brought to life. The visuals really added another dimension to the performance, at times you found yourself watching intently at the screen, the music a soundtrack to what you were watching, you then found yourself mesmerised by Willgoose switching between guitar and banjo whilst hitting the loop button and kicking off a sample.
This was certainly a unique gig experience made all the better for being in a small venue where you can really appreciate the intricacies of what is happening. As I mentioned in my album review; how does the concept continue to evolve and still sound innovative and fresh without repeating? Well I would also add to that; how would the concept work in a larger venue to a bigger audience? Would the brilliance be lost? For now though just enjoy the genius that is Public Service Broadcasting and catch them whilst you can.
Intro: Inform – Educate – Entertain
London Can Take It
The Now Generation
New Dimensions In Sound
Dig For Victory
Theme From PSB
If War Should Come
Outro – Last Of The Summer Wine