Rachel and I are both on weeks off from work yet are both riddled with colds. Yuck! Suffice to say, if this one was any further afield we probably wouldn't have bothered, but Oxford is only a quick trundle along to see this quirky, quintessentially English pop rock band who are always good value treading the boards. So we hit the road at 7.15 and parked up at 8.15 in the side streets behind this new-for-us venue, just along a bit from the old Zodiac (now Academy). A very grand, almost opulent ballroom fully living up to its name, with raised platforms along the side of the main hall for my cold-suffering wife to sit on. Hooray!
Support Film School from LA entertained with a fuzzbomb of swirling layered guitars and swathes of feedback, sounding right at home in Oxford, with Ride comparisons evident. Still, they were the right side of multi-layered, and skirted close to, but not completely into, pointless noise territory. Potential there, so I picked up a CD single.
They were running late, though, so British Sea Power themselves didn't hit the stage, by now festooned with the usual model herons and half of Sherwood Forest, until 9.30. A couple of crowd-pleasing oldies, including a breathless "Remember Me", got the BSP massive going, before the excellent "Lights Out For Darker Skies", the undulating and swirling best track from the new CD, "Do You Like Rock Music?". Indeed, the new material showed somewhat of a sea change for BSP, moving from the Bunnymen-lite of choppy, staccato guitar and 1960's baroque feel, to a more anthemic, big and soaring sound, also evident in new single "Waving Flags". Still ploughing their own idiosyncratic furrow, and with a nice line in between-song banter, this was an entertaining set I didn't fully appreciate due to my cold, and, both waning somewhat, we hit the road at 11 before the encore was over. Glad we made the effort though!