Bombay Bicycle Club are a band full of ambition. Each album has seen them experimenting with new styles and sounds, establishing themselves as one of the most popular indie rock bands in modern day Britain. With the fourth album released earlier this year, the band made another significant style-shift, serving up gorgeously inventive electronic pop inspired by frontman Jack Steadman’s global travels. It gave them their first number-one album and a place in the top tier of English bands.
Given that their songs are so varied, you could be forgiven for thinking that a set taking in all four albums might lack some sort of cohesion. However, the band mastered this perfectly. Steadman may lack somewhat in stage presence and swagger but he certainly makes up for with his voice: comforting, vulnerable and quivering.
Peace’s energetic set was well received despite their approach being considerably more rock influenced than the more intricate Bombay Bicycle Club. Lead singer Harrison Koisser seems to channel a certain demeanour in his dress and mannerisms. In addition to the old In Love material, the band focuses on showcasing new tunes from their upcoming record, Happy People. It seems fans have been anticipating the new release too with support for singles, ‘Money’, ‘World Pleasure’ and ‘Lost On Me’ acting as a lively warm up for the headline act.
Beginning with the Bollywood-sampling psychedelic rock of ‘Overdone’ – the opening track from their latest record – they mixed new songs with old. Their 2011 hit ‘Shuffle’ incited the evening’s first dance, while fans bounced jubilantly to 2009’s upbeat ‘Always Like This’. Joined onstage by female backing singer, Liz Lawrence, and a three-strong horn section in front of an adoring, invigorated crowd. All of the band members helped drive the crowd into a state of euphoria and excitement.
Bombay Bicycle Club’s hypnotic visuals made for a sensory-stimulating show. The infectious ‘Feel’ featured cartoon cobras projected onto the screen tied in neatly with the song’s obvious south-Asian influences. ‘Carry Me’ used dancing figures and faces in black and white, flashing to match the extensive build up of strobing.
As much as it’s clear Bombay’s transferred sound is now about beat and rhythm, they make sure they don’t forget their roots as a guitar band. The set takes an acoustic turn, featuring songs from the second album: ‘Rinse Me Down’ and ‘Ivy & Gold’ before ‘The Giantess’ is merged with the chaotic ‘Emergency Contraception Blues’. This prompts Suren De Saram’s drums to go into overdrive and the performance has now been taken up a notch. Deafening cheers for an encore lead to a triumphant finale: ‘What If’ blistering into the band’s latest lead single ‘Carry Me’ – a genre-bending dance number that sees the band, and crowd, losing themselves in the moment.
It may be a while until we next hear from Bombay Bicycle Club, with four albums in the past five years and a 42-date world tour, the band deserve a well-earned break. It might not exactly be tomorrow but for now, So Long Bombay Bicycle Club.
Reviewer: Bill Edgar
Photograph: Daniel Robson