LIVE REVIEW: Public Service Broadcasting, 6 Music Festival, The Sage Gateshead

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“WHO remembers when they tried to close down 6 Music?” asked Public Service Broadcasting, through their typically comical pre-recorded store of audience interactions.

“ - What a load of nonsense!”

Certainly, anyone who had the pleasure of attending the station’s Tyneside festival will have concurred with this deadpan response.

And with their performance on The Sage’s concourse, the London sampling sensations went on to oblige by delivering one of the weekend’s most memorable sets.

Operating at their rhythmic, quirky best, the expanded live quartet treated a packed crowd to their characteristic brew of electro-tinged rock and archive film excerpts; an appearance which was all the more special for falling on the eve of new conceptual LP The Race For Space’s grand unveiling.

As you’d imagine, no invitation was needed to flaunt their fresh material, whose novelties ranging from Sputnik’s minimal, layered techno to the euphoric moon landing-themed Go!

Even better, the irresistible funk grooves of Gagarin were reeled out with a full brass section against a feelgood backdrop of breakdancing spacemen.

If the ecstatic reception was anything to go by, it’s already well on its way to usurping Spitfire as the group’s most popular standalone song.

Spitfire itself did, of course, receive its usual airing, along with a handful of other cuts from 2013’s terrific Inform - Educate - Entertain, with the furious road rage anthem Signal 30 proving the pick of its fruits.

They even managed to sneak in Elfstedentocht Part Two, a cut from last year’s Record Store Day exclusive single (“who wants to hear a song about ice-skating? Dutch!”), but even this deep cut was lapped up in the context of such a spectacular showing.

From a personal perspective, this was the seventh time I’ve seen PSB, and with the addition of new songs and personnel I’ve no hesitation in calling it the best yet.

Indeed, after tonight, their headline show at Riverside on April 30 promises to be truly unmissable - not to mention a sell-out.