Hopefully after being exposed to more challenging music her room will soon be festooned with pictures of that vision in corduroy J Willigoose Esq rather than a prepubescent, gas mask wearing fringe with a predilection for attacking photographers.
Culture and Hartlepool are mutually exclusive. Instead of haute cuisine we have chicken parmos; Hebburn Cliff, Jarrow Elvis and a plethora of racist ‘comedians’ rather than a vibrant indie scene. Roy Chubby Brown is considered high-brow. So when Incendiary informed me that The Studio, home of the third-rate tribute band, were putting on something slightly more avant-garde I was so excited I nearly hung another monkey.
What to say of this night? Well I do know, despite being lovingly cradled in the arms of Bacchus for most of the evening, that Parastatic played first. That I can say. Sadly, although competent they lacked that spark that is so important. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it washed unnoticed over the audience like postrock muzak: more interlude, than main feature. If this trio were a ride they’d be a merry-go-round. Pleasant enough, but you spend the entire time gazing longingly at the roller coaster.
WTCHRS – pronounced ‘watchers’ – on the other hand were captivating. An intense full-bodied sound, and aided and abetted by an enthralling frontman, they demanded attention. When, the strobe light flashing insistently, singer Liam strode open-mouthed and wide-eyed towards the audience like some sort of deranged automaton it was spellbinding. A performance unlike any other, it stood apart from anything I’ve seen before although I was never lucky enough to watch Ian Curtis.
Their performance was sensational, but what really stole the show were the mesmerising visuals: computer-generated Communist propaganda, featuring millions of uniformed party members, walking, dancing, marching, tumbling and striving. These were projected onto the performers and synchronised with the relentless rhythm. They were so amazing that I was tempted to ask the group to sit down as they were blocking my view*. I’m writing this ten days afterwards and I’m still considering moving to North Korea, pledging my allegiance to Kim Jong-un and waging unceasing war against the oppressive forces of capitalism.
Before seeing them, I had my concerns about Public Service Broadcasting. The word audiovisual had only negative connotations for me thanks to hours of fruitlessly studying French in my school’s AV lab. However, if J Willigoose Esq and Wrigglesworth had been my teachers things would have been so different. Perhaps I could have wiled away an afternoon in a Parisian café, effortlessly conversing with the locals about art and literature, rather that resorting to repeating myself slightly louder in a vain attempt to get a coffee and croissant.
I was wrong to be concerned. They were magnificent. The perfect synthesis of drums, guitar, banjo and electronica, juxtaposed with audio and visual samples taken from the BFI and StudioCanal archives. Performed with their tongues firmly in cheek, old and new were combined effortlessly to great effect. It’s been done before but maybe never with such panache (Big Audio Dynamite should hang their heads in shame). Communicating with the audience via computerised speak was genius.
Every one of our group are going to see them again when they play in Middlesborough on the 11th May, and I am even taking along my daughter Kayla in an attempt to cure her Bieber fever. Hopefully after being exposed to more challenging music her room will soon be festooned with pictures of that vision in corduroy J Willigoose Esq rather than a prepubescent, gas mask wearing fringe with a predilection for attacking photographers. A selfless act on my behalf as I have often used this shrine to the beaver to ensure any guests don't stay too long
Not only will I be buying the album Inform – Educate – Entertain when it comes out on 6th May, but my tailor is already working on my buff corduroy suit and I am browsing bow ties as I write. I demand that you do the same! (OK that's enough, calm down - ed)
Further: despite the high-quality of the entertainment the most amazing thing about the evening was going out in Hartlepool and not being overwhelmed by the heady aroma of barely suppressed violence. Maybe I don’t need to spend my time hiding away in this garret writing drivel.
PS: Before the gig Incendiary’s esteemed editor informed me that he knew PSB. The world’s first male ingénue, I took him at his word and in front of all my friends introduced myself to J Willgoose Esq who informed me he’d never heard of either man or magazine. Thankfully he was a gentleman and my embarrassment was spared. Richard, however, you are a bounder sir, and I demand satisfaction tomorrow at the deserted windmill. I will bring two sledgehammers. (you div, I meant the bloody Mark who manages WTCHRS - ed)
* PSB avoided this problem by positioning themselves either side of the screen, which ensured everyone had an uninterrupted view but lacked the intensity of the WTCHRS.