“THIS is the final leg of our final tour,” says singer Scott ‘Yan’ Wilkinson to a wave of bereaved gasps and confusion.
BSP’s first ever London show was with The Libertines, and the first time that The Killers ever toured anywhere in the world was with British Sea Power. The trajectory of those two bands’ success has been phenomenal.
By comparison, BSP’s fans are few, but frantically devoted. Just as absurd as their obscurity in contrast to their peers, is the very existence of the band themselves.
They’ve gained a reputation for adorning the stage with foliage and stuffed animals in a bid to ‘bring the outdoors indoors’ - with their fans known for waving branches around as a sign of enjoyment.
Sadly that isn’t the case tonight - probably due to the complete lack of plantlife in the concrete city centre of Sheffield and the unlikelihood of a 8 ft tall Leadmill bouncer letting anyone in with the limb of a tree.
In spite of this, the band still succeed in bringing ‘the world of British Sea Power’ to Sheffield - in a physical and imaginative sense, if not in greenery.
Renowned for allowing their obsessions with marine biology, wildlife, obscure history and whatever-else-takes-their fancy into their songs, BSP’s idiosyncrasies shine tonight and really strike a chord with their cult-following.
Only a band like British Sea Power could whip a crowd into such a frenzy with a song with a title like Apologies To Insect Life.
Their set starts slightly lacklustre, but by the time of the almighty celestial anthem of No Lucifer and the rock behemoth that is Remember Me - it’s full steam ahead.
Calm comes in the form of the glacial pop gem Living Is So Easy and classic Oh Larsen B, while other highlights include a feral outing of The Spirit Of St Louis, a raucous rendition of crowd-favourite Carrion and the lovely Lights Out For Darker Skies - probably the most beautiful anti-light-pollution song in rock history.
By the encore, as Yan repeatedly launches his guitar skywards, surrounded by a wall of adoring screams and deafening feedback, the barrier between band and audience becomes blurred when bandmembers throw themselves into the crowd for a mass sing-along.
Only a band worth treasuring are worthy of a reception like this.
Earlier this week, in an interview with guitarist Martin Noble, he told us that the band were to take a break to experiment and prolifically release a series of EPs.
Let’s just hope that was true, and that this wasn’t the final showdown of Britain’s last great band of eccentrics.
By Andrew Trendell