Public Service Broadcasting have developed a healthy German flavour since the last time I checked in on them. After years of playing with a kooky kink for chopped-up Cold War archive footage, triumphant Soviet space race propaganda and BBC nuclear holocaust preparedness films, the London-based Krautrock outfit returned to the genre’s home of Berlin to record their latest effort Bright Magic.
Imbued with the energy that attracted many artists of the era to the city, the band drew more than a passing resemblance to Kraftwerk in Cardiff as they loomed behind their consoles in identical white suits, flanking the support act – German artist EERA, who provided vocals in her native tongue for the album.
PSB otherwise returned to regularly-scheduled programming. The set was a meticulous flurry of progressive Krautrock melodies and tightly-timed evocative visuals, with plenty brought in from their recent German foray – but also plenty from The Race For Space and, crucially, Every Valley, the Valleys mining community-themed project which had so endeared them over here a few years back.
The Cardiff crowd took the mild-mannered band aback somewhat, I think: warm, enthusiastic, taking advantage of the relative quietness of the gig to laugh at their own jokes, but they were ultimately welcomed by the musicians on stage and fed a potent, intimate gig. The sound at the Great Hall is often pretty muddy and could have easily taken the shine off this arthouse apple, but what was lost in volume was completely made up for in the mix, which was outstanding.
The set rounded off with the usual run of ones we were all there to see, but among them was a recent single: People, Let’s Dance, an EERA-vocalled disco track, is a real beast played live. It begged exciting questions for the future direction of a highly talented band that once disregarded vocals entirely.
Great Hall, Cardiff University Students Union, Sun 24 Oct
words JASON MACHLAB photos HANNAH NICHOLSON-TOTTLE
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