As every pair of eyes in Southampton’s O2 Guildhall is hypnotically drawn toward the gradually rising celestial body at centre stage, J. Willgoose Esq. and his equally as kitsch percussionist Wrigglesworth take to their stations (clad in tweed and corduroy from head-to-toe) to perform what is less than of opening track and more of an introductory experience. It’s atmospheric, wherein the only figures to be seen are those of the two performers’ silhouettes and their life-sized replica of the song title’s name – ‘Sputnik’ – which emits a glow from its great silver sphere.
From the off Willgoose Esq. relentlessly thrashes out exhilarating guitar solos on ‘The Now Generation’ and ‘Signal 30’, made only more impressive by his visionary use of pre-recorded samples from public information videos. The concept works brilliantly in recorded form, so to see it reproduced perfectly before our very eyes is a revolutionary spectacle. Wrigglesworth’s irresistible drum riff is rivalled in complexity by Willgoose Esq.’s guitar and piano, which tightly fits with the “RP” commentary rhythmically tied into the melody of ‘Night Mail’.
The show progresses, as does the intricacy of the visuals. Ice skating themed track ‘Elfstedentocht’ sees a skating stick figure portrayed on Sputnik’s LED display and ‘London Can Take It’ embraces the Blitz subject matter with searchlights scanning the audience – most of whom cannot detract their attention from the unreal exhibition of ingenious performance.
Fan favourites ‘Go!’ and ‘Spitfire’ alight the crowd as the subconscious toe tapping evolves into a fully committed body bop all throughout the hall. The show’s really beginning to break the stratosphere and the band know it, yet at this point they decide to leave the stage…
All is made clear as their return isn’t long awaited at all. After only a minute, Willgoose and co. storm the stage, replacing tweed for shimmering space age silver jackets and bow ties. Only one song can accompany this change in attire, and thoughts are confirmed as a fully outfitted spaceman dances into sight. ‘Gagarin’ spreads an undeniable groove across the audience as three brass instrumentalists arrive to enjoy the jamboree.
For a final hurrah, the entirety of the performers remain onstage to create the night’s most empowering, absolute sound. A glistening guitar riff that harmoniously cooperates with the downtrodden bass and inspiring horns paints the vivid image of conquering the mountain of the same name during ‘Everest’.
Public Service Broadcasting prove tonight that they don’t just play the music but they create a living experience which stimulates all sense of sound and vision.
RUPERT TAYLOR @