#38 Public Service Broadcasting, Powerstation

3 May 2018


It's an older crowd tonight at the Powerstation, still one of Auckland's best venues. By older, I mean generally older than me. I'm good with that, I've been an old bastard at quite a few gigs in the past year. 

Public Service Broadcasting entered my consciousness as I was driving on ANZAC day, catching the tail end of an interview on Matinee Idle. Phil O'Brien was gushing about them, while he was interviewing J. Willgoose Esq., one of the band. Like really gushing, like that'll be me in the front row of the Power Station next week sort of gushing (and he's here tonight).

But the sound appealed, and checking out YouTube, they have quite a point of difference. They blend 1950s and 1960s genuine newsreels with a pop rock overlay for an immersive experience. Seemed like one I needed to check out.

And yeah, freakin awesome. It's like someone took the idea behind Paul Hardcastle's 19, grabbed 50s and 60s newsreels then pulled together the Stone Roses and some of the National to create a total mind blast, pulled off by three guys in collar and ties - Willgoose on guitar, banjo and various instruments, Wrigglesworth on drums and JF Abraham on bass, horns and keyboards. I gather JF Abraham is a relatively recent addition to the group, yet he adds a dynamic presence that is difficult to image without him.


Taking footage of Welsh collieries, the Russian and US space programmes, Spitfire fighter pilots, and various other themes and blending them with driving rhythms and cascading guitars, keyboards and horns, they create songs that captivate and soar. And they're damn catchy for good measure.

Go! was a standout, capturing the moon landing, with the crowd leaping on the Go! to every point on the NASA checklist. And a world away, cascading and uplifting, was They Gave me a Lamp, about the political awakening of women in the villages of the Welsh collieries during the miners strike of the 80s.

Fittingly, the show finished with the conquest of Everest. Images I've seen all my life and given fresh meaning and significance. Definitely top 5. Thanks Phil.