Bombay Bicycle Club, Alexandra Palace, London
Monday 30 April 2012
Bombay Bicycle Club have moved a long way since being described as a cross between The Strokes and McFly - a hybrid of ambivalence they themselves denounced.
Three albums of contrasting styles later, they take to the stage at a packed Alexandra Palace - a 10,000 sell-out and their biggest UK show to date. As they enter with assured confidence and set the pace with slow builder and recent single 'How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep?' it's easy to forget the band are still only in their early twenties. The momentum is kept up with 'Your Eyes' and old favourite 'Dust On The Ground', which gets a big cheer.
Few bands have traversed utterly varied musical terrain in such a condensed time as Bombay Bicycle Club. Singer Jack Steadman is the greatest exponent of this, constantly changing instruments and sometimes vocal style; his voice veering from echoes of Brian Molko to Marcus Mumford. Singer Lucy Rose, who makes a few cameos throughout the evening, joins for 'Leave it' and inserts a Laura Marling-esque tenderness to songs such as 'Lights Out, Words Gone' and 'Beggars.'
The great thing about a Bombay Bicycle Club performance is its unpredictability. Upbeat sits comfortably with melancholia. One moment, there is a small acoustic interlude with 'Rinse Me Down' and 'Ivy and Gold,' the next there's a Suren de Saram drum solo, complete with a drumming cat. This is all before the heavy, distorted bass of 'Evening/Morning' kicks in, ending with the crowd joining in as Steadman sings “I am ready to owe you anything.” His commitment as a front man shows he is indeed true to this promise. As yet more musical layers are added with some brass instrumentalists on 'Lamplight' it is all suddenly stripped away as Steadman, just vocals and piano, evokes Thom Yorke on a beautiful version of 'Still'.
The 80s hooks of 'Beg' pull the crowd away from this tranquillity and into the finishing straight, the highlight of which is breakout single 'Always Like This.' An encore of 'Shuffle' and 'What If' finish the gig with the raw sound that made them. The band, originally from Crouch End in North London, were obviously emotional to be at a venue they once frequented and could actually see from Guitarist Jamie MacColl's bedroom window. What larger venue can they now see from their window? Whatever it is, with such accomplished performances, chances are they will make it there too.
How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep
Dust On The Ground
What You Want
Lights Out, Words Gone
Rinse Me Down
Ivy & Gold
Cancel On Me
Always Like This
The Giantess / Emergency Contraception Blues
And why are 'southern' ways of speaking spreading north?
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