On April Fools Day the Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver, played host to the English rockers, British Sea Power. It was a stellar performance that had all in attendance basking in the most delectable of indie rock. This six piece, play with an unbridled passion that is both contagious and fast spreading. On this fateful night they were poetic and pure as they delivered, what I can easily call, the best show of 2011, thus far.
In anticipation of this particular show, I in fact had found myself listening to almost nothing but the back catalog for this amazing band. The Decline of British Sea Power, Open Season , Do You Like Rock Music?, Man Of Aran and the newest album Valhalla Dancehall, were on continuous spin on my iPod for the better part of a week. This, in itself, was strange. I rarely find myself obsessing over a newly discovered musical love, but with this act, I was like a love sick puppy.
With all that in mind, I had arrived at the venue much earlier than I would normally for most shows. I walked in and stood near the sound board, watching as flocks of passers-by went up to the near by merchandise table. After a few minutes I noticed that the consumers before me were spending an inordinate amount of time chatting with the person selling the products. After closer inspection, I realized these “sales people”, we in fact the two acts of the evening. Several members of British Sea Power with Yan, Noble and Abi Fry, as well as the opening act A Classic Education, were mingling with their fan base. I decided it was a good time to jump in, buy my vinyl copy of Valhalla Dancehall and get it signed before the group split.
First to the stage, was A Classic Education from Bologna, Italy. They have that great orchestral indie sound, with jangly, sweeping instrumentals and raw, cocky vocals. The gathering before them, was mildly amused at first, but by mid-third song they were well received. The toe tapping, and head swaying was in full effect, and the room began to move harmoniously to the rest of the set. I found this group to be fun and energetic,which made for a perfect opening act. They got the blood flowing and had everyone in attendance, adjust themselves to “concert mode”.
During the hiatus between acts, you could see the hustle and bustle of the house staff, as they help setup for the main act. People running by with chairs, trays of booze being rushed out, while the crowd was spaced widely apart. This place works hard, and makes it look all to easy at times.
Finally the time had come, the faux velvet curtain was pulled open and the dimly lit stage was a smattering of musical instruments and strategically places silk flowers and plants. Yan, vocals, and Noble, lead guitar, walked on to stage, with the rest of the majestic six closed behind. Without too much yammering on, they stepped into their performance. The vocals were aching, and the instruments were deep and vibrant. From the word go, the house was in full swing. Like one solid amorphous mass, we swayed in rhythm with each song. Abi Fry, on violin, was delicate and gentle, which seemed to tie a nice bow on the whole presentation.
Walking around the platform, to gain a better angle, I wound up directly behind Phil Summer, on keyboards. I watched contently as he worked over the keys and made adjustments on the open laptop set to his side. I then worked my way over and peered between the equipment at Wood, on drums, as he stoically bombarded the skins with his rhythmic assault. His face a tell of his complete encapsulation in the music. The rest of the set, I sat in the crowd. Surrounded by the grins and gawking gazes of those in absorbed into the music. The smell of ale wafted through the air. I was on cloud nine, this was a near perfect night.
The band worked hard, the music was solid and they delivered it with an aggressive energy. There was not much more you could ask for. I said this evening was near perfect, because, it eventually had to end. Had it been perfect, the group would have stayed on the stage until six in the morning. But I guess all good things have to end. I was just ecstatic I was able to experience it. With the caliber of music this group puts out, they could easily be selling out the Commodore Ballroom. It was nice to be able to see them, in such an intimate setting.
Overall I was glad I invested so much time in indulging in this bands back catalog. Their live show was even better. I am glad I warmed myself up their greatness prior to experiencing them live, otherwise I might have gone into shock. At least by having had the foresight, to take in their discography, I already new how beautifully they compose tracks, and how poetically they execute them. Seeing them live was a thrill, I was completely blown away by them, and they have secured themselves a new life long fan. This band works hard, but makes it looks near effortless. British Sea Power is the bar by which other bands should be measured.