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British Sea Power are a band with many enviable qualities. They have an enviable fanbase, whose enthusiasm and dedication is remarkable in the fickle modern music world. They have an enviable career trajectory, when so few indie bands last as long as four studio albums. However, their most enviable asset is undoubtedly their merchandise table. Both the support acts comment on how blown away by their ‘stunning’ merch on sale. And it is something to behold. If you wanted a souvenir of tonight’s show at Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach, you wouldn’t just have to be content with a generic fan t-shirt or CD, you could also buy Clotted Cream Fudge, limited edition Zeus bottled lager (an obscure brand that shares its name with a BSP song), Skol beer mats and many other truly random things. The jealous support acts, Hail! The Planes and Race Horses are deftly chosen. Firstly they share a lot of common musical ground with the headline act. Hail! The Planes also boast a female violin player, and echo BSP’s more epic aspects while Race Horses – pudding bowl hair cuts, parka jackets, Rickenbacker guitars ¬– are more reminiscent of the sextet’s poppy, dynamic side. Also their names neatly fit into the evening’s theme, with land, air and sea covered. By the time the headliners step onto stage the audience has swelled. From the opening Who’s In Control the blistering pace rarely falters. Half the bands in Kerrang! these days don’t rock as hard as this. The more considered, mellower moments to be found on their albums are not given so much of a look in tonight, with the band rattling through an epic 23-song set, although it is the slightly more mid-tempo moments like Baby and Fear Of Drowning that stand out. Guitarist Neil Hamilton Wilkinson notes that this is possibly the most songs they have ever played in one night. The set isn’t without faults, as violinist Abi Fry’s contribution seems buried in the mix, robbing a lot of songs of that extra dimension. That doesn’t seem to hinder the fans so much, who mosh and song along throughout, reaching a fever pitch by the encore. The image of a more middle-aged fan with his shirt open climbing on stage, grabbing the microphone, singing along, all the while still moshing and holding on to his spectacles with his other hand, sums up just how much British Sea Power’s fans love them.

Words: Paul McGarvey
Photo: Rhiannon Davies