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Live / stage review

Communal human experience: Sea Power at The Leadmill

Sea Power celebrate the 15th anniversary of their seminal album Do You Like Rock Music? with a full run-through at the Leadmill.

13 February 2024 at
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Tom Roper.

The title of Sea Power’s third album, Do You Like Rock Music?, is not half as ironic as you might think. While those with a passing interest in the band might dismiss them as eccentric try-hards with their songs about ornithology, stages covered in foliage, and stage-wear of matching military attire, when you get down to the subatomic part of it, Sea Power are a rock band.

Granted there are still songs that reference makes of 1960s bicycles, light pollution and particle physics – not exactly your typical headbanging material, but Sea Power’s ability to kick out the jams has never really been in doubt. Nor has their ability to craft beautiful, hymn-like odes to the communal human experience, as evidenced by the opening track ‘All in It’.

Framed onstage by several dimly-lit floating lanterns and their customary foliage, the swaying majesty of the band's introductory song gives way to a wall of sound in the form of ‘Lights Out for Darker Skies’. Singer Jan’s breathless voice is still as rich as ever, with the ability to soothe and soar over the raging torrents of noise beneath. By the time we get to their epic pro-immigration anthem ‘Waving Flags’, the Leadmill crowd are in full audience participation mode.

The lilting ‘Canvey Island’ is measured and controlled until its crescendo melts into a further wall of feedback. The chugging ‘Down on the Ground’ and ‘A Trip Out’ sound unhinged, with the lines “No la-dee-da, no picnickers” spat out with pure venom by Hamilton.

Time for calm as a hush descends for ‘The Great Skua’, their shimmeringly beautiful, spine-tingling instrumental. During ‘Atom’, I have a small moment of dread – they bring out the air-raid siren. That bastard air-raid siren. The same one they had back in 2008 when the band were first touring this record. I blame that siren for all the hearing-related issues I’ve had since.

After DYLRM? is complete, the band return to play a selection from their wider back catalogue. ‘Two Fingers’ from their latest album Everything Was Forever is anthemic and joyous. There’s also time for the audience to sing happy birthday to Jan before they launch into a monstrous rendition of ‘Remember Me’ from their debut. It’s a powerful, emotional and exuberant evening of rock music, blasted through the filter of one of the UK’s best.

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