Public Service Broadcasting’s spellbinding show at Manchester Academy

Sam Cooper gives his verdict on Public Service Broadcasting's stunning live show...

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Image courtesy of Paul Hudson (via Flickr)

To call what I witnessed within Manchester Academy earlier this month a ‘gig’ would simply not be doing it the justice it so rightfully deserves.

Public Service Broadcasting are an art-rock band with a historical twist, whose cryptic concoction of delicately selected soundbites and assorted alternative instrumentals make for an incredibly interesting and thought-provoking experience. Their focus has moved with each project, varying from samples of BFI (British Film Institute) archival earworms on their record ‘Inform-Educate-Entertain’ to the American and Soviet Space Race on their appropriately titled ‘The Race For Space’. On their third album however, they have decided to share their take on the South Wales Mining Industry, more specifically its meteoric rise and its disastrous fall. ‘Every Valley’ features the Beaufort Male Choir, as well as Welsh music legend James Dean Bradfield of the critically acclaimed alternative rock band Manic Street Preachers and is a bold statement that underpins the importance of the working class and their desperate plight to stay employed.

Their shows are an experience to say the very least and incorporate both audio and visual representations of the music and its essential themes. They had television monitors that projected cleverly crafted films to accompany the music and had a functional set surrounding themselves which included a mill and hanging lanterns that descend upon the stage during the songs they featured from the latest album. Their sound is an eclectic masterpiece of both raw, almost primal frustration and dainty light enjoyment depending on the track. Their all-embracing approach towards each show leaves you feeling blown away from start to finish.

The concept of a band that very rarely open their mouths (aside from this album which for the first-time features vocals from their frontman J Willgoose, Esq.) is one that seems both gimmicky and one-dimensional. It has been done in similar ways in the past with fantastic bands such as Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine (what a great name, right?) and on occasional tracks by artists such as Paul Hardcastle, who was responsible for the Vietnam War themed cult hit ‘19’ but none have done it in such a way as Public Service Broacasting, who have almost singlehandedly created a new genre that leaves fanatics of both music and history like me speechless. I can’t wait for their next project and eagerly anticipate the chance to watch them live again.

 

‘Every Valley’ is out now, via Play It Again Sam