SOUTH Lakeland's finest British Sea Power took Manchester by storm last night as their Valhalla Dancehall tour reached The Ritz.

All of the necessary components of a BSP gig were there - a stage decked out with foliage, musicians in knitwear, and talk kept to an absolute minimum.

Bar the occasional 'thank you' and rare song introduction, this six-piece let their music do the talking.

And rightly so, because these wonderfully-crafted songs deserve the audience's full attention.

Starting with new album opener Who's In Control?, they delivered a set laced with the old and new, seamlessly switching from uncompromising tracks like Zeus to wistful soundscapes such as Like A Honeycomb, and showcasing the solid canon they have built up since forming after brothers Scott and Neil Wilkinson, aka Yan and Hamilton, met drummer Matthew Wood at Kirkbie Kendal School.

The set had plenty of raucous Pixies-esque freakouts, such as the excellent The Spirit of St Louis and Mongk II, but also had time to showcase their uncanny knack of enabling the audience to lose itself in a moment, and nowhere was that more apparent than The Great Skua, which sounded more majestic than ever as it built to its uplifting crescendo.

Recent single Living Is So Easy, with its spine-tingling guitar and vocal melody, was outstanding, and as the initially-static crowd began to let go of its inhibitions, the band became increasingly animated on stage.

By the time of closer No Lucifer mayhem reigned, with guitarist Martin Noble hoisting his mic stand above the crowd so they could join in with the song's wrestling call of 'Easy, Easy', before he indulged in a spot of crowd surfing.

It's nights like this that make you wonder why the rest of the nation has been so slow to pick up on what Kendal has known all along: BSP rule.