Walking into The Brook, you know that the gig you’re about to watch won’t be the usual four-piece band. Just taking a look at the stage, you can see that everything is unsubtly hinting that this will be special performance. Two giant old-school TVs are at the back, two sets of four vintage TV frames are on each side of the stage and one wave-tower is in the middle.
Anyone who’s never heard of Public Service Broadcasting is in for a surprise. In fact, saying that Public Service Broadcasting are a UFO in today’s music scene is an understatement. Not only have the London duo brought back the light-show concept, but they’ve taken it to a whole new level. They use footage from old documentaries as visuals and vocals for their performances, and then mix it with electro samples, banjo, guitars and drums to deliver synthetic post-rock tunes.
Their live performances are at the heart of their music and tonight’s gig is no exception. Restricting their concept to a CD is nearly impossible, so it’s when the band play live that they come across the best. Soon it becomes obvious that none of the musicians sing. It all comes from samples.
J.Willgoose Esq. kept pressing the South Coast’s button’s instead of Southampton’s tonight, but you can blame that on his tiredness – it’s their last show of this tour after all. Most of all you see the band in their outfits: tweed jackets, buttoned-up shirts, bow-ties and thick glasses – yes, Public Service Broadcasting push the old BBC documentary style right up to their clothes.
This show is a conceptual performance more than it is a gig. There is no direct interaction between the band and the audience. The band doesn’t talk, but you don’t go to a Public Service Broadcasting gig expecting anything usual. No, Public Service Broadcasting are here to “Inform, Educate, Entertain”; they play and hide behind their instruments and let the videos and samples do the rest.