Public Service Announcement (PSB) brought there headlining UK tour to Newcastle to the delight of a sell-out crowd at the Riverside. The duo (plus new member) appear to have a large cult following and I was intrigued to hear what all the fuss was about. To be honest I have never heard of these talented, may I say geeky guys but boy was I in for a surprise.
How can an instrumental only band be so entertaining? Well we were about to find out at the literally packed venue. Almost every inch of stage space was taken up with equipment; Wrigglesworth was at the very front with his drum kit and J Willgoose Esq opposite with keyboards, computers and assortment of guitars. The whole set up had the professionalism of a huge band and must have taken hours to assemble. Twin video screens at the back to provide visuals were complemented by two stacks of old TV sets either side of the stage which showed projected images and live video camera feeds of the band members.
Its hard to describe the sound of PSB, but being a child of the 70’s and 80’s that I am, I instantly liked the dance synth sound, maybe more Kraftwerk like, crossed between Thomas Dolby with funky guitar and parts of Depeche Mode esq, whatever the sound, PSB are unique.
The sound has a driving beat with vintage recorded voices overlaid. The retro Pathe News sounding voice over blurted out “Thank you very much” between tracks with an uproar every time he mentioned “thank you Newcastle Riverside” other times it would be “that was an old one, here is a new one”.
Heavy reference to the Space race of the 20th century, showing old film footage from the Russian an American space programs, even a Sputnik rose above the stage, it was all cleverly presented. The song Gagarin was almost a funky disco track with Chic like guitar lick.
There were tracks with dreamy sustained guitar sounds and the audience of all ages were bouncing to the heavier dance driven tracks, the songs were never monotonous and always varied, the whole presentation of lights sounds and visuals kept your eyes glued to the stage.
The conversations between Huston control and the astronauts of the Apollo space flights featured in The Other Side, overdubbed to pumping synth and drums led to the tension of the loss of signal of Apollo 8 travelling around the dark side of the moon. All this followed by Go! with the Apollo 11 moon descent to the same effect.
The wearing of a silver sparkly lame jacket for the encore gave some continuity to the support act the Smoke Fairies and the final song of the night was Everest, the first nostalgic ascents of the great mountain dialogue was played along with the grainy black and white footage to great effect.
I came here not even hearing about this band but now I’m a fan.
Theme From PSB
Elfstendentocht, Part 2
If War Should Come
The Other Side