Saturday 23 April was Sea Power appearing at Albert Hall, Manchester day. It was also St George’s Day.
The two things are somewhat very tenuously related. They really are, stay with me.
Last August, Sea Power announced that they were dropping the ‘British’ from their name. The reasons I completely understand, the fact that the reasons even exist are tragic.
As posted on the band’s website last August,
You see, it is for similar reasons that the Union Jack or, indeed the English flag, immediately bring up negative connotations. Ones that I try to fight against but the terms, the flags, any sense of nationalistic ideology or iconography have been hijacked by people and organisations that are, put simply, and colloquially, the worst.
Last Saturday, I disappointingly yet automatically winced and then, in turn, winced at my wincing when seeing mention of St George’s Day and the flag in my timeline that day. I wish that knee-jerk reaction would leave me as there’s an inferred victory for the far right.
But for now, sadly, those negative connotations just aren’t going anywhere.
Let’s talk about going out in Manchester to a gig! Yeah!
The venue, a firm favourite. That vantage point, those stain-glassed windows, those fairylit pews – too good. Plus there’s always the chance Godfrey Parkes will rock up (Derek Acorah, RIP).
For those who have never been to the Albert Hall, I strongly recommend you see something, someone, anything there. If you don’t mind taking several hours to get to and from the basement loos, and eventually get the hang of the layout of the building and those staircases, it’s an absolute gem of a venue.
From the Charlatans, to John Cooper Clarke, to a screening of Psycho with live orchestra, to Jarvis Cocker, whatever I’ve seen here, it gives great backdrop.
Picking up my tickets, I was offered a giant chocolate button. Yes I was. They had me at giant chocolate button.
The drinks prices aren’t foolish either and if you find the secret bar (hiding in plain sight), you’ll have one person at most ahead of you.
And so, playing host to two great bands on Saturday, one established since 2000, one some 20 years later.
Pale Blue Eyes took command of the stage from their opening gambit, From Devon (me too, Pale Blue Eyes, me too!), I’ll throw some classic comparisons to Radiohead, early Smiths, at you.
Definitely ones to watch and listen to, perhaps starting with their single, the superbly named Dr Pong – Listen here.
For the main event, a whole lot of foliage started to build up on the stage. So far, so Sea Power.
From a band who have had a past reputation for surreal visuals, frenetic stage antics, Saturday was, I’d say, by contrast, still waters. By that I mean full of energy but no trips to A&E by band members or giant bears. Still making a splash, the band had the gig-goers in raptures, there was a fine dose of crowd-surfing, causing a magical manifestation of twitchy but responsible stewarding.
In case you missed it, that was my paragraph of sea and water puns.
But it was, as they say,
a good crowd.they
With representation from the earliest album to the latest, Everything Was Forever (Feb 2022), there was much to enjoy and appreciate for those hardened Sea Power fans to those who simply appreciate great music at a venue that just won’t quit.
The band opened with It Ended on an Oily Stage, lead single from 2005 album, Open Season, right through to big hitter Carrion from debut album, The Decline of British Sea Power, back in 2003, and taking in new single Two Fingers along the way. The set finished with a hat-trick encore of Remember Me, Waving Flags and The Great Skua.
Britannia may annually rule the waves at the Royal Albert Hall, but at its commoner counterpart in Manchester, Sea Power were riding them high.