Public Service Broadcasting, RAF museum, gig review: 'Jolly marvellous'


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The Independent Culture

What ho! With stage lighting frantically darting across the room like spotlight beams hunting the Luftwaffe and a collection of Spitfire fighters on display, there probably isn't a better place in the world for electro-rock duo Public Service Broadcasting to play a special set than the RAF Museum in north London.

The performance, of their War Room EP in its entirety, was a special gig as part of the venue’s Museums at Night series, which saw DJ Yoda play a surprise set under a Lancaster bomber, a fierce paper aeroplane competition and 1940s costumes a plenty before PSB took to the stage.

The corduroy-wearing duo’s  banjolele-infused elecrto (with a dose of Krautrock thrown) is a world away from the twee world of Keep Calm and Carry On tea towels though. Given almost unheard of access to the BFI’s collection of wartime propaganda films J Willlgoose Esq and Wigglesworth responded by mixing it with 1990s-style beats in wonderfully addictive blend of voices (and images) of the past with the music of the present.

An early crowd favourite is a menacing take on ‘Spitfire’ which is accompanied by snippets from the war film The First of the Few on giant screens, in a sort of Battle of Britain meets Kraftwerk anthem, but the stand out track is ‘Waltz for George’. In it Willgoose plays a banjolele which used to belong to his great uncle George, who died at Dunkirk ages just 26.

It’s this personal touch and the duo’s on stage shyness that means that despite the propaganda-laden lyrics, there somehow isn't the slightest hint of jingoism.

Jolly marvellous.