We Are Scientists

Although I go to gigs every week, it’s been ages since I shared the experience on my blog. Sadly, you’ve even missed out on such delights as my old Oxford pals Radiohead coming to East London to visit and play Victoria Park.

A couple of nights ago, though, saw the hugely underrated We Are Scientists (W.A.S.) play Somerset House. I’m a scientist – they may be scientists – so I feel they deserve a writeup. It’s very fashionable nowadays for artists to try and weave some science into their books to try to make them more appealing, but it’s still rare for scientists to do the same with their art. So full marks to the boys from Berkeley (though now New York) for their mid-set discussion of the metric system.

As it happens, back in the 1990s NASA lost its Mars Climate Orbiter because one team was working in metric and another imperial units, so the poor spacecraft didn’t know whether it was coming or going and never made it to the Red Planet.

I love it when you get banter on stage. It’s something American bands do so much better than we Brits. Another thing in their favour is that W.A.S. have a lead singer called Keith, which instantly raises them to supercool status. Somerset House on a balmy summer evening is about the best venue you can wish for, but I first saw W.A.S. at my other London favourite, the Brixton Academy. That day they opened with spotlights on the audience and Phil Collins’ Against All Odds being sung by the waiting crowd, before closing (including all the roadies up on stage) with a cover of Boyz II Men’s End of the Road. Coupled with all the great songs in between, it was a magnificent gig.

Last night’s was fabulous too. Sadly I missed the start and the sound men, as well as not providing a setlist to aid this review, didn’t know if Phil Collins had been used to open the set. Good to see they were paying attention. That said, the sound and the songs were good as ever, played against a wonderful backdrop.

I think it was Chris who said, towards the end of the gig, “We have truly ushered you from day into night – and I don’t mean that metaphorically.” Somerset House is so beautiful as the sun goes down on a gorgeous summer evening that it’s impossible not to comment on it. You’d think it’s near impossible to play a bad gig there, but I’ve seen a few. W.A.S. was one of the best. Here’s my film of how they finished the show with Great Escape:
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~ by keithmansfield on July 17, 2008.

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