I missed the first of British Sea Power’s Krankenhaus nights at The Haunt, but I heard lots of good things about it. I’d heard it was a little less conventional than most night gigs, but nothing I’d heard quite prepared me for last night.
We didn’t get to the gig until about half past nine, and by that point we’d already missed BBC6’s Shaun Keaveny on stage with Brighton & Hove City Brass, so when we arrived and Cardiff’s Race Horses were on stage we didn’t suspect too much. Sure, a bit more effort had been made with decor compared to most bands, but that fitted with what we’d heard.
It was a bit busy downstairs, so he headed to the upstairs bar, which was where we found the ping pong. You read that right – there table tennis being played by drunk people upstairs while the band were onstage.
Shortly after The Race Horses left the stage, a lean, stripped down British Sea Power came on, and rattled through a set of epic pop just with guitar, bass and drums. The crowd surged, with one or two people having to be pulled to safety – the balcony was a sensible viewing choice. When they were joined by Brighton & Hove City Brass for Waving Flags (with each member being introduced separately), the stage looked incredibly cramped, but that didn’t dampen the atmosphere. A sprained ankle amongst our party meant we retreated from the crush to the bar, missing out on a life size bear onstage, from what I’ve seen and read on twitter. It was a surreal and wonderful experience.
But things hadn’t got to their most surreal just yet. BSP left the stage, and choc ices started getting handed out around the crowd. The ping pong table, which up to now had involved people playing singles or doubles, was encouraged to play in a round, with twenty drunk people hitting the ball then making way for the next player in the round. Sean Keaveny DJed for a bit, which was a welcome link with normality. The normality was broken quite quickly though, when the final support came on stage – a Japanese Queen covers band called Queer. The singing wasn’t up to much, but the guitarist was a proper Japanese version of Brian May, right down to the tight perm. It was uncanny.
If you haven’t made it down to one of British Sea Power’s nights as yet, make a note in your diaries for the first Friday of the month (there’s another four nights between now and June), because they really are a treat. The music is amazing enough, but the atmosphere in the crowd, and the extra touches make it an essential night.