Gig review: Public Service Broadcasting, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

Queens Hall, Edinburgh. Picture: Neil Hanna
Queens Hall, Edinburgh. Picture: Neil Hanna
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WERE it remotely reasonable or acceptable, this review would comprise little more than one big/long/repeated WOW, peppered liberally with exclamation marks; occasionally by “amazing” or “incredible”.

Public Service Broadcasting | Rating: ***** | Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

As it is, what follows (penned from the perspective of having previously never heard of Public Service Broadcasting, and now having a new favourite band), can but struggle to convey the multi-sensory, multi-emotional, thrillingly immersive magic of their sell-out performance.

The basic primer, for those yet to be informed , educated and entertained by London-based multi-instrumentalist/electronica boffin J Willgoose, Esq, drummer/percussionist Wrigglesworth and visuals maestro Mr B, is that PSB splice beautiful electronic pop/rock soundcapes with live instrumentation and edited archive footage from public information films, documentaries and news programmes.

With the core trio joined here by JF Abraham on bass and flugelhorn, plus a guest horn trio, their deviously sampled voiceovers – simultaneously evoking the tenor and atmosphere of events depicted – were matched with both the corresponding visuals and a stunning lightshow.

The set-list included older tracks like a spinetingling Everest and the profoundly moving Dig for Victory, alongside material from last year’s themed second album The Race for Space. Even though Willgoose communicated with the crowd solely via spoken-word samples, this only added yet more playful warmth to the ingenious, probingly interrogative interplay between digital and analogue, electronic and acoustic, in which humanity and humour triumphed.