LIVE REVIEW: Public Service Broadcasting, Riverside, Newcastle

Public Service Broadcasting
Public Service Broadcasting
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JUST two months after a well-received set at the 6 Music Festival on Tyneside, Public Service Broadcasting returned for their own headline show.

Coming on the back of critically-acclaimed second album The Race For Space, the gig at the Riverside was sold out well in advance.

And the geeky art-rock duo didn’t disappoint, delivering a set full of favourites old and new.

For the uninitiated, PSB play instrumental music, using samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda.

Banks of vintage TVs on either side of the stage and big projection screens at the back ensure there’s always something to look at, so you quickly forget there’s no singer.

Even the between-song chatter is conducted electronically, with a pre-recorded retro-sounding voice introducing songs and engaging in banter with the audience.

It sounds odd, but the whole thing really works, particularly when core duo J. Willgoose, Esq (guitar, samples) and Wrigglesworth (drums) are supplemented by two other members, as they were here.

They started with the slowly-building techno track Sputnik from their latest album, and followed that with Signal 30, from debut record Inform-Educate-Entertain.

It couldn’t be more different, with rock guitar, bass and drums driving it forward for three and a half exhilarating minutes.

Another old favourite, Theme From PSB, was next, and by this time they had really hit their stride.

Public Service Broadcasting at the Riverside, Newcastle, on 30 April 2015.

Public Service Broadcasting at the Riverside, Newcastle, on 30 April 2015.

Thereafter the set was fairly evenly split between their two albums, with a curveball thrown into the mix in their shape of their 2014 Record Store Day single Elfstendentocht (“who wants to hear a song about ice skating - in Dutch?”).

The main set lasted about 70 minutes, with the last four songs forming what, to my mind, was the best part of the night.

First, the brooding If War Should Come from their 2012 The War Room EP, following by what remains their crowning moment, the wonderfully jingoistic Spitfire.

The penultimate number was The Other Side, the standout track from the new album, and even the chattering oafs at the bar couldn’t spoil the tension of the almost-silent segment where mission control is waiting to re-establish contact with the Apollo 8 astronauts as they disappear round the dark side of the Moon.

Public Service Broadcasting at the Riverside, Newcastle, on 30 April 2015.

Public Service Broadcasting at the Riverside, Newcastle, on 30 April 2015.

They finished on an upbeat note, with forthcoming Moon-landing single Go!, before a three-song encore climaxing with Everest, which, to generous appluse, was dedicated to Tibet.

It was a suitably respectful note on which to end a superbly entertaining night, and on this form, Public Service Broadcasting truly are out of this world.

Public Service Broadcasting at the Riverside, Newcastle, on 30 April 2015.

Public Service Broadcasting at the Riverside, Newcastle, on 30 April 2015.

Public Service Broadcasting at the Riverside, Newcastle, on 30 April 2015.

Public Service Broadcasting at the Riverside, Newcastle, on 30 April 2015.