BRITISH SEA POWER’S SEA OF BRASS, Barbican – Evening Standard, 26 Jan 2015

British Sea Power acquired some real power when they reworked their back catalogue with the Redbridge Brass Band. An Arts Council-funded experiment that was first heard at the Durham International Brass Festival last summer, it received an ecstatic response here.

It’s more traditional for rock bands to acquire a string section as they grow in stature, gaining a soft sheen of sophistication around their electric bluster. The 31-strong horn players were easily capable of flattening the underpopulated indie band. At full power they drowned out the guitars.

British Sea Power, who normally cause chaos on stage with two people dressed as giant bears, seemed bemused to play for an audience that never stood up. But the music reached great heights on A Wooden Horse, with its euphoric trumpet flourishes, and the triumphant swell of Waving Flags.

Redbridge did something much more subtle than turning every tune into a Bond theme. The central melody of Machineries of Joy was rendered on a huge scale. The two bands, divided by a partition, moved in unison over the propulsive rhythm of Once More Now. If the extra weight of horns showed cracks in the songwriting foundations, it was a welcome sign of ambition from one of our most interesting cult bands.

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