Brilliantine Mortality

Third Battalion

Third Battalion home / The Origins and Early History of the 3rd Battalion / Embrace the Past / A Rock in our Hearts / First Rites / BSP on tour Jan-Jun 2003 / Cath Aubergine's 2003 BSP Travelogue / ULU / BSP on tour Jan-Jun 2004 / Cargo / Springtime at Sea / True Adventures in the Land Beyond / To Cork and Dublin / The Children of the Summer's End / The Fall of British Sea Power

Footnotes The Search for HMS Sussex / Irish Jack

Fan reviews of BSP gigs can be found on the main site

The Children of the Summer's End

British Sea Power's UK Tour, Thermidor and Fructidor CCXIII

Continuing their policy of taking rock music into the UK's less accessible corners, BSP entertained crowds from as far a field as the Scottish Highlands, St Austell and the Isle of Wight during August and September 2005. This short series of intermittent dates gave birth to the phrase 'BSP Weekender' with four essential weekenders occurring in the space of 36 days.

Brakes' performance at Brixton's Windmill on 6 August 2005 provided a pleasant prelude to BSP's late summer UK performances. A small assortment of fans arrived in Brixton for mid-afternoon refreshments and map appreciation at the Canterbury Arms before making the 20 minute walk to the Windmill in time for the complimentary barbecue. Brakes were well on form as they delivered an upbeat, raw and energetic 30 minute set including a double dose of Cheney and their magnum opus Hi How Are You? in this decent traditional pub. After show drinks were enjoyed well into the small hours on the Windmill's patio as fans covertly fed the pub's dogs left over chicken quarters and bratwurst.

The following afternoon an assembly of hardcore fans gathered for the Ben and Jerry's Sundae on the Common Festival with proceeds donated to the restoration of the Grade II listed Clapham Bandstand, constructed in 1890. Between acts fans enjoyed attractions such as the helter-skelter, a guess the weight of the cake competition and the Vauxhall City Farm. As Yan strode on stage sporting a pair of blood-splattered style trousers of which Jack the Ripper would have been proud, a British naval team were rescuing seven Russian submariners who had been trapped for three days in their vessel 625 feet beneath the Pacific Ocean off the port of Petropavlosk-Kamchatskiy on the Kamchatska Peninsula. The successful operation caused Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov to salute "the true meaning of the brotherhood of the sea." Opening with the crowd pleasing Childhood Memories and omitting The Scottish Wildlife Experience from the set list were two concessions to performing before a family-orientated audience. Bedevilled by the appalling sound all too frequently encountered at low budget outdoor events, this performance was scarcely vintage BSP. However, the return of Ursine Ultra during Rock In A - thanks to Martin Noble's handy repair job with his sewing kit - sent ripples of delight across an otherwise passive crowd.

Next stop Leicester's De Montfort Hall, named after Simon De Montfort who, in 1239, agreed to pay King Henry III 100 and provide 60 knights in time of war for being appointed the Sixth Earl of Leicester. De Montfort famously fought at the bloody Battle of Lewes in 1264 before meeting a grisly end a year later at the Battle of Evesham. Today the hall is home to a 6,000-pipe concert organ - the survival, significance and refurbishment of which was marked by a special birthday recital evening in February 2004. The anniversary concert featured a programme of light entertainment and popular organ music including the celebrated Toccata and Fugue in D minor and C. S. Lang's Tuba Tune.

BSP presented themselves on stage to the tune of Open Season's hidden track. Forever the deviationist, Yan opened up with Spirit of St Louis, mercilessly hammering his tambourine with a plastic stork, drawing casual observers to the front of the stage like moths to a flame. Tonight's 45-minute, eight song set was reminiscent of BSP's wild early days. Remember Me, Carrion, and Oh Larsen B proved to be obvious crowd pleasers, whilst the proceedings concluded with Yan simulating sex with a giant grizzly bear in a rare public display of erotica.

Passing Loch Lomond's 'bonny' banks and the infamous Loch Ness, the A82 route through the Scottish Highlands offers the most stunning driving scenery through what is often referred to as the last great wilderness in Europe. Breakfast is enjoyed in Glencoe village at the foot of the towering Glen Coe, scene of the notorious Glen Coe massacre of 1692. Continuing north through Glen Nevis, the low morning cloud hung eerily, masking the rugged crags and peaks of the Monroes, before we arrived at the highland idyll that is the Firth of Cromarty in time for lunch. Today's Tartan Heart Festival is being held on the Belladrum Estate - beautifully lined with dry stone walls and wild fauna - on the north bank of the River Beauly, where a settlement grew around Beauly Priory in 1230. The name Beauly is derived from the French "Beau Lieu" (beautiful place) and is thought to originate from a comment made by Mary Queen of Scots when she visited the town during the summer of 1564.

Brakes performed stoically in the Hotbed Tent with a small number of people moshing in the front rows to All Night Disco Party, before BSP took the main arena. With four kilted "BSP Pipers" piping the band onto the stage, the return of Apologies to Insect Life and The Scottish Wildlife Experience, one fan waving an inflatable deer's head and another so oddly dressed that his accessories alone included a crash helmet, a speedometer, industrial capacity ear defenders, a halogen lamp, goggles, two aerials and a fire extinguisher strapped to his back, BSP were simply on fire whilst their fans were at their absurdist best. Between them, Yan - sporting white polo shirt with prominent red wine stain plus a red neckerchief presented to him by a fan the previous evening in Leicester and Ursine Ultra had whipped the crowd into a state of ecstasy when Out of my Mind on Dope and Speed was being segued into Rock in A. After witnessing a performance this good, hanging about for the remaining acts was pointless. By the time the headliners - The Proclaimers - were on stage I was thundering through Stirling, its beautiful castle standing majestically on the hillside illuminated like a shining beacon against the dark Scottish evening skyline.

On Friday, 20 August, it was announced at very short notice that BSP (40 per cent of BSP to be precise) were DJing at Oxford Street's TopMan store to help promote the forthcoming Isle of Wight "Bestival" which the store are co-sponsoring. The afternoon consisted of Eamon and Martin emerging rather sheepishly from the direction of the footwear section to spin some tunes by among others New Order, The Pixies and MC Hammer to approximately a dozen fans plus scores of disinterested shoppers.

The following Friday I arrived at Bramham Park to see Art Brut give the Carling Festival a decent kick off. An afternoon's jollity was enjoyed with the Leeds Massive, watching The Towers of London, The Rakes and Iggy and the Stooges before BSP entered the fray minus Woody who has suffered a "sex" injury if Martin Noble's 'official' rubric is to be believed, with stand in drummer Matt 'The Hat' James from Gene performing with aplomb. Appearing on stage to the sound of a church choir, Yan commenced the proceedings by hurling a decoy owl into the crowd in a typical display of decadence. The band delivered an energetic 45-minute set of mostly singles including Carrion, Elegiac Stanzas and Please Stand Up to the apathetic audience.

Twenty-four hours and 370 miles later, BSP performed in St Austell. Few venues are more appropriate than Kernow's Eden Project - a cultural zeitgeist based in a large deep sided steep crater adorned with an array of exotic plants and gaily pastel coloured silk flags - to host a BSP concert. BSP are performing with Badly Drawn Boy and Ian Brown in aid of Kosovo as part of the Eden Sessions 2005.

The afternoon is spent wandering around the project's vast tropical biomes, forming part of the World's largest greenhouse admiring the mangroves, waterfalls and the Malaysian Rumah Kampong village house. BSP are first on the bill, performing to a gathering of well heeled Cornish gentry. The band arrived on stage to the strains of Men Together Today easily winning the crowd over with as popular a set list as I can recall and new sound effects including canned applause and a barking dog. If popularism is a dirty word to the band's more hardcore fans, BSP redeemed themselves later. To the bemusement of the security staff, during Ian Brown's set Yan, Noble and two persons unknown darted on stage waving bits of card with the words 'King Ian Brown' written on them before Yan leapt into the somewhat bewildered crowd as two burly security guards ushered an apologetic looking Martin Noble - wearing an all in one bright red jump suit - out of sight.

A much needed six hours sleep is gained in Lostwithiel before crossing the Tamar back into England at dawn. Driving through the deep morning mist enveloping the beautiful Devon hills, continuing through Somerset, Gloucestershire and the fields of Wiltshire, I reached Royal Berkshire, completing my journey to the Reading Festival by boat up the Thames. BSP's Reading slot is something of a regular feature. The festival has become a key social event as friends and BSP regulars alike make this annual pilgrimage to mark the end of the summer. BSP braved the Signing Tent in the afternoon. Hamilton sported an authentic 1960s bus driver's Public Service Vehicle badge as the band autographed surplus stocks of promotional posters for the Carrion single to the delight of fans.

The Reading crowd was much more up for it than Leeds with the audience bedecked in tree branches and various flags including a White Ensign, a St George's cross, a Jolly Roger, a Turkish crescent and star and, curiously enough, a 'flag' with a picture of a full pint of ale with the word "Beers?" beneath it. BSP joined the melee to provide the pick of their three performances this weekend. Yan's vocals were on finer, more brutal form than ever. After opening with Spirit of St Louis and Remember Me the band went from strength to strength. A BSP first came between Apologies To Insect Life and How Will I Ever Find My Way Home? with the use of an emergency vehicle's piercing siren as a striking sound effect whilst Rock In A was a finely executed lap of honour. As the night drew in, we joined the main stage for some highly entertaining Goth rock Marilyn Manson style before making our way to the Carling Tent to see my childhood heroes Echo and the Bunnymen. With excellent sound and performing under a cover of darkness and dry ice, witnessing the ever stylish Ian McCullogh performing Seven Seas, Never Stop and The Cutter really was the perfect end to a wonderful summer.


Twelve days later, trudging through Oxford's cobbled streets in the crisp morning air to the sound of dead autumn leaves crackling beneath my feet, I made my way towards the train station to catch the 07.15 to Southampton to begin this BSP-Brakes double header weekend. The 11.00 Red Falcon ferry cruised along Southampton Water and into the Solent, formed at the end of the last Ice Age as glaciers in northern Britain melted and post-glacial rebound caused the Isle of Wight to become separated from the mainland. An unhealthy breakfast is eaten at the Captain's table before docking at East Cowes, continuing through the Arcadian landscape towards Robin Hill Country Park for Bestival, the last event in the UK's 2005 festival calendar. The park is home to red squirrels and lies in the shadow of the motte and bailey Carisbrooke Castle, where Charles I was imprisoned before being sent to London for his trial and execution. Having arrived on site we quickly snapped up a four pint measure of the award winning 'Bestivale', brewed using the unique natural St Boniface spring water and distributed in convenient to carry petrol cans.

The afternoon is spent mainly in the Strongbow tent with the exception of a couple of departures to watch Grand National and the kitsch 1980s influenced poseurs The White Rose Movement. BSP performed at Adventures in the Beetroot Field in the Wild West Tent. An odd collective of characters are found drinking and partying outside the tent, apparently attracted by the Adventures in the Beetroot Field DJs playing tunes from a deck adorned with flying rabbits, powered by propellers on their noses with flashing lights on their backs. The evening marked the welcome return of Woody - without doubt the unsung hero of BSP - as the band delivered a vigorous, no-nonsense festival-inspired set culminating with a rather tame appearance by Ursine Ultra, Yan beating the keyboard against his head before hurling it across the stage and Martin Noble momentarily looking as though he really did believe the flimsy washing line would support him in an attempt at swinging from the Wild West balcony back to the stage.

The following day saw a return to where it all started. This time, autumn had well and truly arrived as we disembarked at Brixton Tube Station to brave an almighty storm of torrential rain, deafening thunder and forked lightning providing a spectacular display of natural pyrotechnics. We ran at apace along Blenheim Gardens towards the shelter of the Windmill pub to see Brakes once more. The Windmill really has got its act together with a regular bill of live, affordable gigs attracting mostly locals, regularly packing the place out. Just as they were five weeks previously, Brakes were fast and loud; the heat verging on the tropical. Despite the very notable absence of Jackson, Eamon, Muck and the Brothers White easily pleased this boisterous yet bedraggled crowd. Brakes left the stage and another small chapter of this fantastic adventure was almost closed. As goodbyes were exchanged over one last round of drinks, my attention shifted towards returning to normality before reuniting with people once more in historic Lincoln in twelve days time.

Sarah Nicholls
September 11, 2005

Band photos by Cath Aubergine, except Leicester by Morgan Lane.

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