The incredible Krankenhaus continues to steamroller its way through 2012 with this, the fourth instalment, featuring the one-night-only return of Eamon Hamilton to British Sea Power after a six-year absence. Eamon was always the maddest and most reckless member of the group (which in itself is quite an achievement), and showed no signs of having calmed down in the intervening years, spending a high proportion of the night airborne with his head jammed inside a bass drum. This was Eamon’s night and it began with a surprise “This Is Your Life”, BSP elder brother and biographer Roy Wilkinson embarrassing the Brakes singer with tales of misadventure on the rooftops of Paris, against a musical backdrop of Noble and Eamon attempting to make the stupidest noises possible using only a drumkit and the demo button on Eamon’s keyboard.
Next up are Purson, dressed in paisley and pendants and in need of a trip to the barbers they look like psychedelic saviours beamed in from the late 60s, but sadly the sound they make fails to live up to the image. A fairly pedestrian rock stomp with some nice twiddly guitar embellishments, Rosalie Cunningham’s sub PJ Harvey shriek begins to grate as they essentially play the same song seven times. Things start to improve on the last couple of tracks where the tempo and energy is turned up a notch, but all in all fairly disappointing.
After a brief intermission for the raffle (prizes include a second hand toaster, some of Yan’s old socks, a can of Lynx deodorant and a pair of battery operated underpants), British Sea Power take to the stage. Entering to the homoerotic choral sounds of “Men Together Today” the band plough through their debut album in its original running order. Ever the contrarian, Eamon decides upon taking a more interesting route to the stage, wading through the crowd in his WW1 helmet, carrying his marching drum as audience members bash at it in time to “Apologies To Insect Life”. Due to the nature of this sort of thing there are few surprises, but the crowd goes wild to pretty much every song, and a particularly energetic “Lately” and a beautiful “A Wooden Horse” bring the set to a thrilling, albeit predictable close, the highlight of which is debut single, “Fear Of Drowning”; any band whose recorded output begins with the words “Jesus fucking Christ, Oh God no” is alright with me.
An encore of supplementary early material follows, Eamon, now dressed in flight suit and helmet takes his marching drum back out amongst the masses for an impressively energetic spot of crowdsurfing. The usually epic “Spirit Of St. Louis” is cut short, presumably to stop Eamon from actually dying, and he returns to the stage to sing on a seemingly unrehearsed version of Brakes’ “All Night Disco Party”, which turns into a chaotic jam with yet more crowdsurfing, and possibly the most impressive Krankenhaus moment so far when Noble somehow manages to scale the balcony. Ending with Yan lying on the floor, singing his own impromptu version of “24 Hour Party People”, this was a set with all the madness we’ve come to expect from Krankenhaus, with a little extra thrown in, just for good measure.
To complete the night we get DJ sets from Mark Riley and Old Sarge, playing everything from The Fall to Britney, a choreographed dance troupe and the excellent Welsh coldwater instrumental surf rock group, Y Niwl, last seen backing Gruff Rhys. No sign of Jock Scot, the bear, or the cats in wheelybins listening to Mastodon, but there are still two more Krankenhausen to look forward to, so who knows what will happen.