Indie-rock band British Sea Power (who hail from Brighton, although three of the band members originally come from Natland , near Kendal, Cumbria) leave behind the traditional touring circuit, comprising of musical havens such as Manchester, in favour of more adventurous locations for their shows. They even have their own festival ‘Sing Ye From the Hillsides’, held at the highest inn in England, ‘Tan Hill’. But the 8th April sees them play the beloved York venue, the humble Fibbers. Celebrating their 10th anniversary as a band last year, and with seven albums under their belt, including an original soundtrack for the documentary feature film ‘From The Sea to the Land Beyond: Britain’s Coast on Film’, they’re a more long-established band than those which usually grace the Fibbers stage.
Perhaps their venue choices are just one of the many ways they like to surprise us. From album to album, they are a continually inventive and original band. Their line up consists of Jan Scott Wilkinson (vocals, guitar), Martin Noble (guitar), Neil Hamilton Wilkinson (bass guitar, vocals, guitar), Matthew Wood (drums), Phil Sumner (cornet, keyboards) and Abi Fry (viola). They are a band who, despite their imagination, have struggled to create a record which truly manifested their best work. Though third release ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’ came pretty close, their latest record, 2013’s ‘Machineries of Joy’ seems to be their defining album. The album lends its name from the title of a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury, which celebrate the hedonistic delights and potential for happiness that can be derived from both body and mind. Jan enraptures us within his dreamy voice “We are magnificent machineries of joy… and then some” in the title track. British Sea Power intelligently draw on different influences, such as literature and so according to The Quietus are “a band that journalists love… they give us so much more to write about than music”. Machineries of Joy, is overall a “A mature record, in the best possible sense” it “reins in the whimsicality and tendency towards wackiness, while still retaining a smart sense of humour alongside the philosophical pondering and strident rock shapes.” (The Quietus).
I saw British Sea Power headlining Kendal Calling’s ‘Calling Out’ stage last year, and was captivated with how their dreamy, hazy brand of indie rock translated to live performance. It was a mix of the mystical- the stage adorned in with eerily lit leafy plants, and the riotous, as a pair of giant dancing bears descended upon the crowd. British Sea Power do not bring us simple rock; but have multi-faceted complexity in their eccentricity. There aren’t too many occurrences of a band of such establishment playing Fibbers, and if their previous passionate performances are anything to go by, they promise to ignite a fire in Fibbers that should not be missed.
By Sophie Brear