British Sea Power : London ULU

Rock'n'roll's always had a healthy friendship with madness...

It's hardly surprising British Sea Power took their time in winning over the hearts of the great British public. They're not exactly what you'd call a 'sane' band, after all. Tonight's show involves a keyboard player taking cover under a WW1 helmet, a guitarist half-garrotting himself with his own scarf and the arrival of a big furry bear onstage.

British Sea Power, you see, have hatched more loopy plans than most mental-ward patients manage in an entire lifetime. But whereas they're way more entertaining than a hungry twat in a perspex box, they've always struggled to get their music heard over their influx of crazy ideas.

Tonight, however, is one glorious smack in the cynics' chops, as the British Sea Power boys transcend their oddball reputation and become a thrilling rock'n'roll proposition. Latest single 'Remember Me' is jolting jitter-punk that straps Joy Division into an electric chair and jumps on the lever. 'Carrion' is a soothing massage of swirling, guitar-enhanced tidal waves. And 'Favours In The Beetroot Fields' proves that dressing as the Famous Five is no obstacle to blasting out charged-to-the-nads bursts of schizo-punk.

As things descend into a cacophony of feedback and wild-bird noises, frontman Yan hurls himself at the baying crowd while guitarist Noble clambers to the summit of a speaker stack. Keyboardist Eamon, meanwhile, is making his way across the stage, thumping a big-band drum.

Rock'n'roll's always had a healthy friendship with madness - from albums recorded in sandpits to strange voices in people's heads telling them to buy the latest Dido album. And at long last, these Brighton-based loons are twisting insanity into a shape that makes perfect sense.

James Tones

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