Public Service Broadcasting | Live Review

Public Service Broadcasting @ O2 Academy, Bristol. 23.04.15.


If you want to save yourself a long trip to the Moon, Public Service Broadcasting can certainly give you a convincing alternative to mull on.

Despite knowing of Public Service Broadcasting previously, I had no idea how big the gig would be for the group. The bands cult following came out in numbers - this is the most packed out Bristol gig I’ve seen so far despite the O2 academy being such a large space. Young teenagers, fan girls, older woman and gentlemen, this is a band I didn’t expect to have such universal appeal. To begin with, Smoke Fairies emitted an out worldly throwback sketchiness that warped back to the very trappings of ethereal 60’s rock but at a more immediate pace. Though still it seemed an odd choice of support for the main act, it served as a nice starter.

Just past 9pm a jolly cartoon appeared on the screen where a voice narrates us through the story of Jeffrey, a small squiggly character who makes the classic gig blunder - he records the whole gig on his phone and blocks the view for others. Then uploads it to YouTube, gets no views, is disowned by his family, then friends… Then his dog. It’s a rather unusual start to the gig albeit a funny one which shakes things up a bit, and makes it clear where Public Service Broadcasting stand on people filming their gig. Now as they take to the stage it all seems perfectly clear as the first song ‘Sputnik’ is backed by mesmerising grainy space footage, flickering starry lights, and the crackly voiced narration which Public Service Broadcasting use in the form of a vocal.

It’s the first time I’ve been at a gig and seen so many people remain completely still and stay silent at the same time. You can tell they don’t take themselves too seriously, through the brief breaks in songs where staying in character, they talk through vocoder saying “BRIZZLE”, or “simmer down” to the appreciate shouts thrown from the crowd. However it doesn’t stop them from being stupendously epic. ‘Sputnik’ was minimal to begin with but grabbed people’s interest and kept them watching. It takes command attention from such a large diverse crowd, but from the view on the balcony everyone was taken in by what was on offer. Fast retro cars, butterflies hatching in slow, and fashionable ladies on a catwalk are among the many montages which flashed upon the flickering screen just above the stage. Their style of gig is more like a live action art installation as opposed to a normal performance.

But Public Service Broadcasting are far from the normal which is what makes their Bristol show so bewilderingly brilliant. We have country guitar style breakdowns, high soaring Muse style riffs, and what an encore. ‘Gagarin’ thrills with its jittering space age funk tribute to Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who was the not only first man to reach space but also the first to orbit the Earth in 1961. Dialing down on ‘Tomorrow’ they shape light drums synth atmospherics, and a pattern chimes to build on an empowering statement with words like “America’s challenge of today, has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow”.

There’s no doubt that Public Service Broadcasting delivered - no it’s not something you can sing along to, but there’s definitely a shared sense of fascination from the crowd surrounding the group consisting of J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth that brings a very mixed crowd to this show. So if you want to save yourself a long trip to the Moon, Public Service Broadcasting can certainly give you a convincing alternative to mull on - and groove through of course.

Check out ‘Gargarin’ right here:

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