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When Sea Power Came to Town
25 Feb 2022

Sea Power (formerly known as British Sea Power) plays Theatre Severn and is a big hit with our admittedly partisan reviewer George Nash, who even managed to grab a few words with the band after the gig.

What happens when you bring together a stack of Marshall amps (and the odd Roland amp), a plethora of guitars, a battered drum kit, a cornet and a group of highly talented musicians with serious attitude? Answer: the highly acclaimed and sometimes eccentric Indie band Sea Power (formally British Sea Power!).

Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn (Walker Suite) was the venue for a new-look Sea Power, minus violinist Abi Fry and the obligatory wandering polar bear. The band charmed a largely partisan audience with old favourites as well as seven tracks for their new album - 'Everything was Forever'.

The five-piece band, formed in 2000 is considered to have been likened to bands such as The Cure, Joy Division and The Pixies. Na, they are an altogether unique blend of post-punk and arthouse rock – they are their own influence! The band is famed for their commanding in-yer-face live performances, thumping out tight guitar riffs with mindful bass (Neil Hamilton Wilkinson) and drums (Matthew Wood). Unique lead guitar form Martin Noble indelibly stamped authority on the performance, while Phil Sumner and his cornet and keyboards provided haunting crescendos on tracks 'Heavenly' and 'Skua'.   

The playlist charted the band’s history, from the 'Decline of British Sea Power' (released in 2003) to the haunting 'From the Sea to the Land Beyond': 'Britain's Coast on Film' (2013) [my choice] through to their new material, including the tracks 'Two fingers', 'Folly' and 'Doppelganger'. The audience was entertained to a four-track encore that included staples 'Carrion', 'Lucifer', 'W-Flags' and 'Skua'. 

In an exclusive interview after the performance for My Shrewsbury, I managed to ask guitarist and lead vocalist Jan Scott Wilkinson about the new album - I wanted to know, was he happy with the outcome?

He claimed this was the first ever album he had liked and could listen to following its release! When asked why drop ‘British’ from the band’s name in 2021, a cryptic answer ensued - "The dropping of term British fits within the way we as a band feel about things and make clear what side we are on – we’re on the nice people side."

Hidden behind these carefully chosen words is a real concern about the rise in populism and nationalism and an awareness that the band’s name could be tarnished by association. 

The performance, promoting the new album, forms part of a busy UK-wide tour that kicks off in April and plays at such prestigious venues as the Birmingham 02 Institute (April 12th), the London Roundhouse (April 14th), and Manchester Albert Hall (April 23rd). Feel privileged that Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn was a worthy warm-up venue to this tour – they came here first.    

I should give a mention to the support act – Wolverhampton-based singer/songwriter Ryan Evens, who warmed the hearts and souls of the audience with a string of songs using electric acoustic guitar and melodic vocals. Evens was the preferred aperitif for the main event.