I have always had a soft spot for Bombay Bicycle Club, last time I saw them was just after their debut album ‘I Had The Blues But Shook Them Loose’ came out back in 2009. Since then they have release the rather excellent ‘Flaws’ and recent album ‘A Different Kind of Fix’.
Tonight they were bringing a whole host of friends with them, first we have Warwickshire & Birmingham based singer-songwriter Lucy Rose who is exceptional. She is rapidly rising to fame having gained support from Radio 1 DJ Edith Bowman as well as standing up on her own with singles “Scar”, “Middle of The Bed” and “Red Face”. ‘Bikes’ is a highlight of her albeit very short set with the whole crowd singing back at her when she sings the line “Scream out loud”.
Next up is a remarkable young talent I had not come across before, the divine vocals of Lianne La Havas. Unfortunately I didn’t catch any song titles, but the first two tracks performed purely on her own were captivating. She held the majority of the audience’s attention from the off.
So onto the main act. A huge netted curtain covers the whole of the stage, as the lights drop, Jack Steadman and his merry men appear behind it fully lit and launch into opening track “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep”. As they reach the chorus, the curtain drops and the band are fully exposed to us. From the offset, the remarkable thing to witness is the sheer quality of the musicianship of the group.
They have grown up fast, from being the ‘new indie band it is cool to like’ through to acoustic troubadours and now an indie Goliath. On the skin tonight, it appears that the Civic is sold out, but as I move around the venue from photographing to the rear, I would say it was roughly 85% full, if you wanted you could have arrived late and still walked in to near the front. This is not a bad thing, but tonight, those of us who are present are witnessing one of the best gigs I have seen for a while.
As Bombay Bicycle Club tear their way through their set, I pick up on there being more emphasis in the mix on the rhythm section than purely vocals and guitar. The bass is incredible, Ed Nash knows his way around the four strings and at times I can see glimpses of Joy Division and New Order from his riffs. Suren de Saram’s drumming is perfect but the under-appreciated key is Jamie McColl’s guitar licks, a seriously underrated guitarist of his generation. The set includes a healthy mix of tracks from all albums, the likes of “Dust On The Ground”, “Lights Out, Words Gone”, “Rinse Me Down” and “Always Like This” ensure the fans are treated well.
The light show accompanying the performance always adds a sense of drama to a performance, tonight a combination of bright backlit showers and flashing lights add more drama than usual. It would also be unfair to mention the regularity of Lucy Rose joining the band on stage throughout the set. From the off she was on backing vocals, on occasion stepping forward to join Steadman on lead duties. Their voices separately are wondrous, but together is just something a bit special. Not content with just vocal duties, she also picks up an electric guitar for “Beggars”.
Crowd interaction is kept to a minimum, I am not familiar with the personalities of BBClub, but I have always assumed they are a bit shy and just prefer to let the music speak for itself. This is evident in the way they keep coming forwards to the edge of the stage to play their instruments with passion and vigour. The main set closes with the combination of “The Giantess” segued with “Emergency Contraception Blues” which is just a perfect way to close the set.
The encore is made up of “Shuffle” and closes with ‘What If”. What else can really be said? They put on an absolutely brilliant performance tonight. I am won over and a converted fuller fan now. I have no doubt in saying that they will no doubt excel and be one of the highlights at various festivals this summer. As to whether we see them in the Civic Hall again, I sincerely hope so! I don’t think we are ready to loose them to the arenas just yet. They certainly deserve to play the bigger venues, but maybe I’m just being selfish in wanting to keep them intimate.