Tag Archives: Every Valley

Public Service Broadcasting, Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 10 April 2018

The return of Public Service Broadcasting to the Corn Exchange after three years of a steadily increasing profile culminating in their new album reaching number four in the charts.

Support was from Jane Weaver, multi-talented singer/songwriter tonight showcasing tracks from her most recent album with her keyboardist and guitarist laying down some bold electronic grooves and featuring some excellent live drumming. Jane’s vocals float effortlessly above the music and the hypnotic qualities of ‘The Architect, ‘I Need A Connection’ and older favourite ‘Don’t Take My Soul’ went down well with the sold-out crowd.

With a stage flanked by two moving pithead wheels and miners’ lamps descending from above the four performers of PSB opened their set with the first three tracks from the very successful ‘Every Valley’ album, describing the central position of the coal industry in communities in the Welsh valleys; the decline of the industry to be revisited later in the show.

Their use of visuals has reached a new level, the striking images projected onto several screens, illustrating the archive voice samples. The musical core of the band continues as strongly as before, with live guitar, drumming and bass giving extra heft when necessary.
Older songs such as ‘Theme From PSB’, ‘Night Mail’ and concert rarity ‘Elfstedentocht’ (‘…a song about ice-skating in Dutch…’) were real treats but the surprise mid-set highlight was definitely ‘ROYGBIV’ when the voices describing the invention of electronic colour were accompanied by a visual spectacular.

We cheered the re-establishment of contact with Apollo 8 as it returned from ‘The Other Side’ of the Moon, enjoyed the dancing astronauts and brass-players in ‘Gagarin’, went misty-eyed over film of the pioneering ‘Valentina’, were shocked by the images of confrontation and musical dissonance in ‘All Out’, revelled in the eccentric singalong of spacecraft technology in ‘Go’ and were carried along by the emotional history lesson of ‘Everest’. And there was more too.

What a great show! In 2015 I described them as a ‘…formidable live attraction…’, they are even better now…

https://www.publicservicebroadcasting.net/
https://janeweavermusic.com/

https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2015/04/26/public-service-broadcasting-corn-exchange-cambridge-25-april-2015/

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Public Service Broadcasting: Every Valley, released July 2017

The follow-up to the acclaimed ‘The Race For Space’, the new Public Service Broadcasting album debuts in the album charts at Number 4, not bad for a concept album about the decline of the coal mining industry in South Wales. Given those perhaps limited parameters this is a superb result, it is more introspective and less immediate than its predecessors but repeated listens brings overall reward and many glistening nuggets like that which no doubt were sometimes found in the coal seams (…enough for another 400 years…).

The narrative starts with the perceived and semi-romanticised nobility of the miners in the opening title track with of course spot-on sampled voices including a too-short snippet of the legendary Richard Burton (which made me want to re-listen to his voicing of The War Of The Worlds!). ‘The Pit’ tells us what it was really like, the 80 degree heat of the tunnels …three feet six inches high from floor to roof… (for further reading see Orwell’s Road To Wigan Pier…).

There are lots of acoustic instruments on these opening tracks, using local strings players and recording in their purpose-built studio in Ebbw Vale. The wryly titled ‘People Will Always Need Coal’ is a favourite of mine, the band using a more familiar electronic-based sound underneath the subtle ironies of a recruitment campaign film ‘….you’ll discover the excitement of going underground, there will always be something new…’. It builds up well, I can imagine it as a future live favourite. ‘Progress’ follows in a similar vein, with the vocal hook added by Traceyanne Campbell.

Then this optimism begins to crumble; the closures, strikes and strife reflected in the angry rock guitar of ‘All Out’, PSB’s noisiest track since car crash opus ‘Signal 30’ on their debut album. The rest of the album deals with the aftermath and how local communities were affected. Guest vocalists (James Dean Bradfield, Haiku Salut, Lisa Jên Brown) contribute effectively but it is those real-voice clips that really hit home.

And if listening to the gradual mellowing of the music towards the end of the album doesn’t leave you spiritually part of the landscape and its uncertain future, the final emotional heft of the male voice choir singing ‘Take Me Home’ is a glorious coda to an affecting musical journey.

https://www.publicservicebroadcasting.net/
https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2015/04/26/public-service-broadcasting-corn-exchange-cambridge-25-april-2015/
https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2015/03/01/public-service-broadcasting-the-race-for-space-released-february-2015/