In front of a sold-out Brixton Academy, Public Service Broadcasting emerge and blast into Sputnik, as their giant DIY model of the titular satellite takes flight above the stage. Soon, there’s a stirring rendition of Blitz-inspired London Can Take It. ‘The night is long, but sooner or later the dawn will come’ is a line that ties into PSB’s celebration of human achievement and resilience as well as hope for the future.
With a vast light show and screens behind the band, tracks from The Race For Space are vividly brought to life with archive footage, the highlight being Apollo 8’s voyage around the moon chronicled on The Other Side. Smoke Fairies lend cut-glass vocals for Valentina, and extra brass and a choir appear on opener The Race For Space and closer Tomorrow, as well as strings for the crescendos of standout tracks like EVA. Beyond visuals, there’s also a grand reveal of the voice behind PSB’s usual pre-canned stage banter, who introduces songs in a top hat and monocle to laughter and cheers. Modest polymath mastermind Willgoose ends with sincere thanks, explaining that he’d agreed to speak if they ever fulfilled their dream of playing here. A small step in the history of progressive music then, but a giant one for PSB, in all their eccentric glory.