Smokers Outside the Pirate Den’s Doors- Editors and Public Service Broadcasting at Barba Negra

One of the deepest darkest fears of a Budapest concert goer is that the band will jovially greet Bucharest at some point,  maybe adding a sprinkling of how are you doing, Romania, as a side dish. This fear is of course mirrored across the border by the ominous possibility of a friendly hello Budapest and let’s have some fun, Hungary. The only band to be trusted to get it right are probably Enter Shikari, who tour so extensively in the area they’re likely to know it better than Hertfordshire.
Public Service Broadcasting took things to the next level, by having the concert’s venue eerily located in Budapest, Romania (the Facebook page flaunted a tiny Romanian flag as well, which is actually not so off the mark, since before some brain dead city official found it offensive, Budapest’s flag was indeed red, yellow and blue.) Given that I happen to be immune to Romanian-Hungarian animosity for rather obvious reasons, I actually found it much more disturbing that the location of the concert looks like a recently abandoned pirate den, sadly minus the treasure. Consolingly though,  some of the gents at the bar looked like they might fling a parrot on their shoulder at any moment.
Managing to fend of the sudden urge to down a bottle of rum and break into sea shanties, we made it to the stage area, where we were greeted with the re-assuring sight of groupies plastered to the fence.  Taking selfies, the luxury of which was not allowed to our younger selves, as you really did not afford to waste a dozen of your twenty four exposures on a duckface.
This gracious activity was brought to an end by the somewhat subdued appearance of Public Service Broadcasting, greeted by a couple of acid remarks related to their geographical haplessness. This was later replaced by the burning desire to find out whether they would actually sing or talk to us- the most basic of YouTube investigations would have already provided the answer, they didn’t.
There was however something utterly absorbing in their act of machine music meets very human gaucheness- whereas most people getting into the business would probably settle for making music to dance to, Public Service Broadcasting make music to think to. And while this could sound dangerously abstract, it actually works live as well. I may not have set out on my Tuesday expecting to ponder on the implications of AI with a pint in my hand, but that’s exactly what I did, and it was most satisfying.
Editors are another matter altogether- although, in retrospect,  the two acts complemented each other better than I would have expected. From the very first time I heard Tom Smith articulate the word fragile so very oddly over and over again in their breakthrough hit ’Munich’, I had that strange gut reaction brought about exclusively by things you love so much they hurt.
There’s of course no logic in that, and there shouldn’t be. The guy’s just another bloke who sounds like Ian Curtis, they say. Well yes he does, and thank heavens for that. And they generally sound like Interpol. Yes they do, and thank heavens again. Though I double dare Paul Banks to try and move his hands quite like Tom does – yes, the hands mesmerize me to the extent that towards the end of the concert my lens refused to focus on anything else.  

Oh, and then their albums all sound a bit the same, they say. Of course they do. They sound just right, dark and moody, with the occasional crystal clear gem of a song or a gloom anthem that through its cracks radiates light. And that shouldn’t change just because someone feels you must reinvent the wheel every year. The wheel’s successful millennia are testament to the basic fact that it works. 
To create the utterly incorrect impression of an objective review, I shall also mention how so many acts either avoid the wild East (and it’s infamous capital of Budapest, Romania) altogether, or perform with their handbrakes on when faced with the disturbing unknown which might or might not include a sinking pirate ship. So it was refreshing to see that for once we’re not off the map and well, we are taken very seriously indeed- the band cruised through an impressive 21 tracks at full speed, even taking time to make a remark on the loveliness of the place. Though of course you can’t help but imagine how in fifty years time they’ll be mentioning to their grandchildren how there was that one time they ended up in pirate headquarters in Budapest. 

I’m doing so well here I can even bravely venture into, ahem, criticism of how their setlist didn’t include ALL the songs I love, thus not lasting well into dawn next day. To compensate for this, I am listening to Editors on repeat and find myself practicing elaborate hand motions while getting ready for work or cleaning the kitchen. Because great concerts never really end.






















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