LIVE REVIEW: Public Service Broadcasting/Trev Gibb, Metro Radio Arena

Public Service Broadcasting
Public Service Broadcasting

I’M probably the only person who was at the Kaiser Chiefs show at the arena not for the headliners, but the support acts.

While the Leeds indie-rock band’s star might be on the wane, they chose two support groups whose fortunes are very much on the up.

Neither Trev Gibb nor Public Service Broadcasting are a big draw yet, but both attracted a small band of enthusiastic followers before the main event.

With perhaps 200 people in the cavernous hall as he walked on stage, Newcastle songwriter Gibb was in the unusual position of playing to a virtually empty room, yet it still being one of the biggest gigs of his life.

An established and well-liked figure on the region’s music scene, the velvet-voiced crooner is more accustomed to places like The Cluny and the Mining Institute.

But that didn’t prevent him and his four-piece band giving a strong account of themselves.

He’s a talented writer, but his chief asset will be always be that smooth, evocative voice, which alone was enough to warm the vast, empty spaces, not to mention those who’d come along early to see him.

He has a new EP out in April on excellent local label Mono Recordings, and with a bit of luck, tonight’s performance will attract a stream of fresh followers.

Special guests Public Service Broadcasting were on a promotional push of their own, for their celestial second album The Race For Space, which is due to be unveiled before the month is out.

Expanded to a quartet for this tour, core duo J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth are one of today’s true musical oddities, blending both traditional and electronic instruments with samples from old public information films.

It’s a sound which, to borrow from the title of their debut album, provides an informative, educational and entertaining window to the past.

With their beefed up live sound, established fan favourites like Night Mail and Spitfire were, as usual, terrific, but perhaps surprisingly, the new material was just as satisfying.

I had concerns over how they’d translate live, never mind in a support slot in a slowly-filling arena, but the two songs aired - the groovy, riff-based Gagarin and moonlanding-themed Go! - slotted in well alongside more familiar tunes.

Those longing to hear the record’s more atmospheric and cinematic moments and catch their show in all its glory should head to the Riverside on April 30; it’ll be a far more suitable venue, and hopefully a much more receptive audience.

Tonight though, PSB adapted their set and production well to their rather more grand surroundings, and, along with Trev Gibbs, provided a tasty appetiser to the night’s main course.