Sea Power by Jamie MacMillanSea Power by Jamie MacMillan
Sea Power by Jamie MacMillan

Sea Power at Brighton Corn Exchange

Sea Power were an inspired choice for a big Brighton Festival and duly produced a triumphant show, on home ground.

After more than two decades in the city they’re now as close to being Brightonians as makes no difference, and accordingly there was a whole lot of love for them from a nicely packed out Corn Exchange.

They made a cool entrance amid the familiar on-stage foliage (but no sign dancing of the dancing bear), performers and plants both beautifully back-lit.

Who’s in Control, from the band’s 2011 album Valhalla Dancehall, was a barnstorming opener and set the mood for an exhilarating set which rarely stopped for breath.

The band formerly known as British Sea Power, were in robust form propelled by some crisp, powerful drums from guest member and gargantuanly talented Thomas White, he of Electric Soft Parade, Brakes and Fiction Aisle.

Lead guitarist Martin Noble retains a his own unique style and his shimmering soundscapes are a key part of Sea Power, and singer Yan was in ruddy good voice, aided by the venue’s exceptionally clear and warm PA.

In fact, it’s worth noting the contribution of the newly renovated Corn Exchange. The new lights were cool, the sound was as clean as a whistle, and there was a real sense of space under the high ceilings and beautiful carpentry.

Back on stage there was a nice blend of newer material from the 2022 album Everything Was Forever and older crowd-pleasers.

Of the more recent vintage Doppelganger fared particularly well, tight drums and bass with screeching viola and marauding guitar.

The band’s multi-layered sound soared throughout, with a tasty mix of guitar pedal trickery and hard playing.

Other highlights included some gorgeous country-tinged licks on The Smallest Church in Sussex (a song which namechecks the Seven Sisters) and an exultant version of the timeless Carrion.

There was nothing from their melancholic 2020 computer game soundtrack Disco Elysium, perhaps understandable given the slower pace and brooding atmospheric nature of the material.

However they did end with an instrumental, the marvellous epic The Great Skua, a musical paean to a piratical seabird and the global eco-system, which isn’t something you’ll find yourself writing about many songs.

The night ended with adulation and waving of caps as the band joined together and beamed their way through a group bow, deservedly soaking up the love.