gig report: Public Service Broadcasting, Village Underground, London, 27th May 2013

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It is fair to say that this blog and Public Service Broadcasting go way back - in fact they delivered a guest mix for us over a year ago, just around the time that they were starting to make waves. I always thought that they had potential, but if you told me then that their debut album would chart at #21 and they would sell out two nights at Village Underground just as it had come out I would have raised an eyebrow.

They've expanded and extended their live show over the course of the last year, and they now deliver the sort of spectacle you would expect from a band that have a top 30 album. There are many aspects that remain from their early shows - J. Willgoose, Esq still plays everything apart from the drums, endlessly swapping between guitars, keys and banjo, and the visuals are still wonderfully in sync with the music, even though they now have someone dedicated to running the visual side and there are a ton more TVs.

In fact that was where tonight's show started, with all the sets tuned to a black-and-white test card. Over the next 70 minutes they played pretty much all the tunes they had, mixing old faves like 'Lit Up' and 'ROYGBIV' with the newer material from 'Inform - Educate -Entertain', an album which gets a new lease of life in a live setting. The visuals help a lot of course, and in particular the spotlights that shone around this cavernous East End bunker seemed eerily appropriate during 'London Can Take It'.

'The War Room' material is still my favourite and provided many of the highlights. From the crowd pleasing tour-de-force of 'Spitfire' to the first encore, where the original drummer Wrigglesworth was welcomed back to play piano on 'Waltz for George'. That was almost PSB-unplugged - a nice riposte to those who accuse them of being a band that only rely on samples.

Willgoose still only communicates through pre-recorded announcements, specifically tailored for each show of course. A fact which, when coupled with tongue-in-cheek gestures, manages to further endear him to the crowd rather than distance him. A friendly robot, perhaps.

The human touch was underlined again at the very end when a brass section - I assume it's fellow Tooting residents Professor Penguin - join on 'Everest'. For those that think PSB is a one-trick pony, this was a sign that there is plenty of scope and imagination for them to continue and develop. After the show I walked into the street whistling the refrain from 'Everest', and noticed that someone else was doing this as well, so surely that's a sign that PSB are doing something very right.

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