Public Service Broadcasting – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 13th
“Please allow me to introduce the band”. Thus spoke J Willgoose Esq. “It won’t take long”. Whilst there was an honourable mention for their projectionist Mr B, Public Service Broadcasting the band is fundamentally a duo. “Wrigglesworth on drums and…...me on everything else”. And without any further ado Messrs Willgoose and Wrigglesworth fired up the PSB sound and vision machine for one last time tonight and scaled the heights of ‘Everest’.
Along with most everything else they perform tonight, ‘Everest’ is drawn from their recently released debut album Inform - Educate – Entertain; an inspired recording wherein audio samples taken from old documentaries, public safety films and assorted archive movie clips are stapled onto an explosive soundtrack that both men score from their fusion of electronica and post-modernist Krautrock, a God almighty burst of relentless drumming, raging guitars and splintering synthesisers.
Live, the music moves into an altogether new dimension of sound as it plays out against an impressive backdrop of a huge 1950’s Bakelite TV, banked by stacks of smaller television sets through which the archive images are beamed. It is an intoxicating history lesson and one in which we hurtle through time and space; by land and by air we travel in our quest for a knowledge that will better inform our present and future lives. It is a journey that takes us by locomotive on the London Midland and Scottish railway mail train as it traverses this green and pleasant land with a great sense of duty and responsibility, Britten’s original score replaced by a stirring accompaniment that would not have been out of place on New Order’s Low Life as Willgoose and Wrigglesowrth shift shapes into Sumner and Morris respectively.
The journey continues across oceans and through the air, from the outbreak of the Second World War across the cruel seas of destruction and into the victorious skies above as scenes and dialogue from The First Of Few are spliced with the drums, guitars and electronics that each dovetail into the unashamed love and devotion for one’s country that is ‘Spitfire’. Even the greatest of peaceniks could not fail to be moved by this fervent desire to stay safe and protect what is yours.
Once there was a mountain called Peak 15……..as you are swept along to those Katmandu foothills by the sheer euphoria of PSB’s sumptuous distillation of Mogwai, Morricone and Neu! and the entire experience builds to the rarefied air of the Sherpas rejoicing with Hilary and his team upon their joint conquest of Mount Everest, it is impossible not to be swept up by the undoubted thrill and unbridled emotion of it all. It was the most fitting finale to the most experiential of evenings. But now that their hand has been fully revealed, the trick for Public Service Broadcasting will be how best not to just end up repeating it.