It has been a while since Public Service Broadcasting last played Aberdeen. The electronic band, who use archival samples from the British Film Institute in their music, last visited the Granite City in 2018 for the city’s True North Festival. But a lot has happened since then – and not just Covid. The ever-evolving London-based band have found new exciting and experimental ways of capturing a sense of time and place in their music.
While previous records, such as Inform-Educate-Entertain and The Race to Space were created in response to specific historic events such as the Miners’ Strike and the moon landing, Bright Magic brings all the history, myths and mystic of a single city – Berlin – a place that frontman J. Willgoose, Esq. finds “fascinating, contrary” and “seductive”.
If Public Service Broadcasting are worried about how this shift in gear will affect die-hard fans, they don’t show it. The multi-instrumentalists are just as charismatic as ever and watching them effortlessly pull off this spectacular 105-minute show, is a joy.
Kicking off a concert with two relatively unknown tracks is always a risk – but Der Sumpf (Sinfonie der Großstadt) and Im Licht – which features the electromagnetic sounds of Berlin – are lapped up by the Music Hall’s enthusiastic crowd. In a change to the normal four strong line up, Berlin-based Norwegian artist EERA, who also provides the support for the night, joins PSB on stage, providing vocals for the bands Berlin numbers, including one of their latest singles, Blue Heaven, which was inspired by 1930s icon Marlene Dietrich as well as their ethereal classic, Progress.
PSB gigs are famous not just for their dynamic sound but for their incredible visual shows too. Despite the shift in style, the band absolutely deliver a knock-out spectacular with hypnotic lights and entrancing mixed media visuals. While the crowd show endless appreciation of Public Service Broadcasting masterpieces such as Spitfire, Go! and Gagarin, it is heartening to see them also embrace the Bowie and Kraftwerk influenced tracks of Bright Magic lovingly and without resistance.
By the time Public Service Broadcasting close their set with Everest, their ode to Norgay and Hillary, it feels like reaching the summit with them. A lot may have changed in three years, but Public Service Broadcasting’s ever evolving musical expedition feels like it’s only getting started.