Live Review: Public Service Broadcasting + Pale Blue Eyes at O2 Academy, Sheffield

Bracing in the newly chilly October air, it had been a while since my last gig, and I was filled with excitement to be on my way to Sheffield’s O2 Academy to watch Public Service Broadcasting, and their support, Pale Blue Eyes. The atmosphere was quite the contrast to what would normally be associated with a Sunday night; a welcoming buzz begun to build as the venue filled with people. 

Soon enough, Pale Blue Eyes took to the stage, and got the evening off to a great start, with melodic, poppy tunes that clearly got everyone moving along! Their stage presence was second to none, and it was clear to see that they had great chemistry among band members, musically and emotionally, and their enjoyment was purely infectious. I couldn’t help but smile watching them. Upbeat, synth-lined numbers, coupled with this energy, were clearly just what anyone in the crowd still lulled into their Sunday night slump to bring them right out of it. 

Public Service Broadcasting were to be a very new experience for me, as I don’t think I had ever seen a live band with little to no lyrics prior to this, and I was both excited and apprehensive about what the evening would bring. I’m normally a person who loves to belt out lyrics at a show, but spoiler: this show didn’t need them! The stage begun its transformation for the show into a very dark, atmospheric haze for ‘The Visitor’, and we were taken into the realm of ethereal and emotional right away. 

The tempo and lighting built through the following two songs, and the crowd was full of energy to match. Each donning slick, all-white outfits, the band were in sync with each other in all manners, seamlessly building their signature captivating sounds along to mesmerising visuals of both the band on stage in real time, and clips from the subject historical events of each song. A great surprise came part way through ‘Korolev’, as the brass section strode out and right to centre stage to take the energy up yet another notch – I can only describe it as the human and musical equivalent of a pyrotechnic effect! 

As per my neurodivergent perspective article on this show (being published shortly on Joyzine – Ed), I was moving around the venue a little at this point, and so was fortunate enough to see the stunning visuals from several different angles, and just how much was going into this enthralling sound and show. Instruments, lighting and who was on stage were all ever-changing to fit the diverse changes in sound, and it was engrossing to see how effortless it was made to look. 

Fast forward to ‘Go!’, the tune that, for a self-confessed NASA/space fan like me, was sure to be an absolute delight. I was seated at front of house at this point, and couldn’t resist bopping along in my seat and fist-pumping to each echo of “go!”. I’m not afraid to admit that the emotion that had been rising throughout each rendition made its way out a little at this point: I really did feel the nail-biting intensity of that monumental event, and it made me yearn to be there in person. 

If that wasn’t enough excitement, fans were buzzing for the four-song encore and dancing along like they hadn’t just been doing so for at least the last hour! No enthusiasm lost, two space suit-clad figures skipped and jumped around the stage, which was as brilliantly weird and fun as it sounds! No applause was spared when the band introduced themselves before the final song, Everest, and it’s clear to see why. My only disappointment at this stage was that ‘Everest’ was the last dose of evocative, thought-provoking sound I was to hear, but the show went out strong to rapturous applause. 

One thing I can say for sure about Public Service Broadcasting, is that if there is a historical event occurring, I would love to hear their soundtrack to it! A truly unique, league of it’s own show, it’s a performance I certainly won’t be forgetting in a hurry…

Find out more on Public Service Broadcasting’s official website

Review and photography by Chloe Addlesee:

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