Teeth of the Sea (supporting British Sea Power) – Live at The Ritz, Manchester 15/02/2011

Review by Chris Oliver

Teeth of the Sea’s show starts with a very odd sample, which sounds like a Transformer repeating the phrase “Egg Roaming”.

Then it gets weirder. Frankie Goes to Hollywood is the most normal thing I can compare with, and one song sounds like Alice in Chains’ ‘Iron Gland’.

When I close my eyes, I see Daryl Hannah. Nothing unusual there, but she’s joined by Rutger Hauer and Harrison Ford, and a whole host of futuristic gubbins, because this reminds me more than anything of Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack.

I feel like the Ritz has been transformed in to some kind of futuristic robo-club.

Without vocals throughout, Teeth of the Sea’s bass player provides a lot the melody lines, the electronics whizz-kid stage left providing (amongst many other things) some nice sub-bass from his seemingly endless supply of electronic gizmos. The bass player then swaps strings for a trumpet, sparking a merry-go-round of multi-instrumentalism, with never the same line up in each of the six tunes, including a tag-team effort where the drummer grabs the bass and beats out some good old fashioned ‘guitar destruction’ noises with his sticks.

The drummer makes do with two floor toms, snare, crash, no stool and a fairly loose definition of timing, although he makes up for these shortcomings with a lot of enthusiasm. The drums sound a bit thin, but not half as crap as I thought they would when I saw them. The guitarist does all the posturing I expect of a man who looks like Spike out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a Gibson Flying V and lightning-bolt strap – upto and including playing an entire solo behind his head.

I’m really entertained – because I hate watching the same old rubbish. This is definitely not something you see every day. I’m not sure I am supposed to be amused, but I am, slightly – although not in a way that stops me from liking the music for what it is. All in all, it’s good value for half an hour of my life.

I love the way that the stage is dressed for British Sea Power’s set – with branches adorning all the mic stands and amplifiers. Somehow the show seems to fall a little flat from the off, until a few songs in, when ‘Remember Me’ gets people excited.

There are sometimes three guitars and sometimes two keyboards but I can rarely pick any of them out –although nothing seems to be missing – and unfortunately it’s not until the encore that we really hear the viola properly. Being a bit of a stickler about sound, this irks me – but it’s not enough to stop me from enjoying the show, ‘Spirit of St Louis’ especially.

For such energetic music though, I’m surprised at the lack of movement in the crowd – it’s not until the encore that they really get going. It seems odd to me that this band is so beloved by stand-and-watch fans– but it’s clear that they enjoy it, because the applause is rousing at the end of every tune, and roaring at the finale.

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