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Review: Public Service Broadcasting, Middlesbrough Empire

Public Service Broadcasting.
Public Service Broadcasting.

Public Service Broadcasting’s aim is to “Inform-Educate-Entertain” - and they certainly did that with this amazing gig at Middlesbrough Empire.

For the uninitiated, PSB is multi-instrumentalist J Willgoose Esq. and drummer Wrigglesworth, who ingenously layer samples from old film and newsreel over their experimental, electronic dance music to stunning effect.

Their first album, the aforementioned Inform-Educate-Entertain, plundered the BFI library, while the follow-up, The Race For Space, used samples from the USA/Soviet space race, and last year’s Top 5 album, Every Valley, is a concept album on the history of mining in Wales.

Joined by touring band member JF Abraham, PSB opened their stunning show with the title track from their latest album, and the thought-provoking The Pit and People Will Always Need Coal.

The stage show of pit wheels and mining lamps along with projected black and white images of mining back in the day gave the show a poignant and eerie feeling.

The latest album could well be performed in its entirety, but they reach into their back catalogue to get the crowd dancing to Theme From PSB, Night Mail and Spitfire.

Their more funky dance tunes are enhanced by a three-piece horn section, who also bring a sense of showmanship and fun to the performance.

Two selections from their ‘space’ album closed the main set, the brillianly atmospheric The Other Side and funky Go!

The troup returned for encores with a song from each album - All Out, the infectiously Gagarin, which saw the horn section get down and featured two body-popping cosmonauts, before the mighty epic set closer Everest.

PSB have come a long way from playing Hartlepool’s The Studio to a handful of people some five years ago, but, on the evidence of this show, are getting better and better.