On Board With British Sea Power!

Band take to the Thames in support of renewable energy

The Quietus has been to see British Sea Power play some rather special places over the years: a tiny pub in Sussex, a beamed barn, the Jersey Opera House, the Natural History Museum, Newhaven Fort and a tiny stave church up in the Arctic Circle. Last night, the band followed in the wake of The Sex Pistols and the invading Danes of the 9th Century and embarked on the Symphony cruiser (which resembles a floating greenhouse with a motor) to play live as it sailed down the Thames from Westminster Pier to Greenwich and back to the Houses of Parliament. British Sea Power had been invited to the event organised by green pressure group Embrace My Planet, who seek to promote renewable energy. Last night’s concert was especially aimed at garnering support for the development of technology to make use of the tides and seas around these Island shores: British Sea Power were supporting British Wave Power, if you will. You can find out more about their excellent campaigns at the Embrace My Planet website.

BSP were introduced by former Tory MP Peter Ainsworth, an enthusiast for renewable energy who stood down from Parliament at the last election. Mr Ainsworth enthused about British Sea Power ("I know you’re looking forward to a good bash from the band!" he cried), and then quoted BSP lyric "would you ever go down down down" with reference to boating, telling everyone it was nothing to do with anything naughty, but the power of rock music and protest. He was later corrected by British Sea Power’s singer Yan, who said "It was nice to be introduced, but that song is actually partly about oral sex". Ainsworth delivered a speech saying, "whatever people may say about the science of climate change, and people say an awful lot of rubbish about it, it’s only knaves and fools who don’t take the science seriously. And they know who they are – apart from the fools, obviously. We need to be less reliant on imports and fossil fuels, we need to better respect the earth’s natural resources and diminishing reserves of minerals. We need to understand that British Sea Power, through the vast resource offered by those marine opportunities around our coast, means that we are potentially the Saudi Arabia of marine renewable power."

He went on to exhort the renewable industry to forget their differences ("there are too many bitching arguments going on") and unite against the lobbying power of the oil industry, pointing out that the kind of three-legged horse depicted on the front cover of British Sea Power’s Valhalla Dancehall would not get on very far.

British Sea Power then played a cracking set as we sailed back up the Thames: ‘Canvey Island’ reminded us of the Thames Estuary’s formidable power as we headed under Tower Bridge; ‘The Land Beyond’ greeted Blackfriars and as the Houses Of Parliament hove into view, the band launched into a fearsome ‘Great Skua’ through the most perfect PA we’ve ever heard them on, and MPs supping in the Thames balcony bar looked on curiously, and perhaps a mite nervous of the amplified rock cannonade. British Sea Power concluded with a version of ‘Carrion’ that became ‘All In It’ – "we’re all in it and we’re all in it and we’re all in it and we close our eyes" they sang. Was this a riposte to the Coalition government’s assertion that they are shouldering the same burden as you and I in these straitened times? The crowd, fortified by wine and what our friend Robin described as "cold, post-apocalyptic canapes" of steak tartare and smoked salmon, were wildly enthusiastic – indeed, one tired and emotional peer of the realm was seen pumping the hand of British Sea Power’s manager and praising the performance before heading off into the night to vote.

British Sea Power return to Westminster this Saturday, March 5th to play the Westminster Reference Library.

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