BRITISH Sea Power launched Barrow's Canteen & Media Arts Centre as a live music venue in fine style last Thursday.

The evening began with an illustrated talk from Terry Hurlock of Barrow's Submarine Heritage Centre because the venue is in the heart of the Barrow shipyards, just down the road from the giant BAE assembly sheds where they currently build nuclear subs. Terry's talk was on the fateful history of the submarine HMS Perseus, built in Barrow in 1929 and sunk in the Ionian Sea after hitting a mine during WW2.

Terry's talk was well received and made a nice link between this area's history and a band who have named themselves after the all-consuming power of the waves. The auditorium for the show was once a works canteen in the Barrow docks.

BSP opened the musical programme with a B-sides set at 7.45pm. Thus, we had a rare outing for lesser known BSP gems such as Moley & Me and A Lovely Day Tomorrow. This set also featured the first ever airing for the new BSP composition No Need To Cry At All.

Next up, were the Ulverston-based teenage ensemble Murray & The Skankers - selected after a request for local bands to send in demo CDs. Mixing brass and guitars and playing straight-down-the line ska sounds, M&TS were very well received. They included a version of the ska classic Rudy Can't Fail and also a spot of AC/DC redone as if by Jamaican rude boys from the English north-west.

Closing the night was the BSP main set. A veritable powerhouse performance, it included the Top 20 hit It Ended On An Oily Stage. The evening ended with the band's usual brand of joyous chaos - keyboard man Eamon parading through the crowd banging a marching drum while noise poured from the speakers and the rest of the band did sychronised handstands across the stage.

Sam Hunt, the event promoter, said: "It was the perfect way to open the canteen centre. We're told the last person who performed here was Gracie Fields, when she was boosting workers' morale during the Second World War. I don't think even Gracie could have boosted morale more than this show has done. The audience loved it, which just goes to show the kind of special night you can have when you can get great national and international talent out to this spot on Barrow Island. We hope this is first of many great nights at the canteen."

Yan, BSP's vocals and guitar, said: "This venue was a brilliant place to the play. It's a strange area, with the big submarine sheds towering over terraced islands, but it was maybe a perfect backdrop for our band. It's a beautiful setting in an odd way. The audience was great - a real mix of ages and fashion sense, but all full of lust for life and lager. It was one of the best audiences we've played to. You know that old saying knocking Barrow people - nowt good ever came round Black Combe?' This crowd put that one to bed forever. They were great. The canteen centre seems like it could be a real addition to art and life in this area. We hope we'll be back soon."