Bombay Bicycle Club, The Barfly, London

Freewheelers still making a big noise
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The Independent Culture

It's easy to forget how quickly success has found Bombay Bicycle Club. Fresh off their third studio album, regarded as one of the indie scene's leading lights and about to embark on another UK tour, they are still only in their early twenties, yet have already established a reputation and popularity that belies their relatively tender years. With a rise to prominence this swift, the fear is that an even swifter collapse could be around the corner. On tonight's evidence, however, BBC fans have cause to be sanguine, as it doesn't seem the London group are going anywhere soon.

Striding out to a rowdy reception, and launching almost immediately into the bass-heavy grunt of "Evening/Morning", there's an instant charisma to these young men, who can lull you with acoustic ballads or bombard you with fearsomely loud distorted riffs. Their set tonight focuses more on the latter, and the Barfly's floorboards quake beneath you for the duration as a result.

Frontman Jack Steadman, whose distinctive, tremulous vocals lend an intimate candour to even the band's most pounding tracks, offers little in the way of patter, but throws his slender frame about the stage with abandon, whirling madly to the adolescent joys of "The Hill" and bounding along to the irrepressible bassline of "Always Like This". Fuelled by a rhythm section of not just admirable industry but genuine ability, BBC's best tracks tonight are largely of the thunderous variety, with the sudden, overwhelming chorus of "Magnet" a particular highlight.

Yet there's detail in the decibels. The intricately woven groove of recent single "Shuffle" reflects an innate feel between Ed Nash's bass and Suren de Saram's drums, while "How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep" opens with a gorgeous, lilting guitar melody plucked beautifully by Steadman and lead guitarist Jamie MacColl.

Not everything goes according to plan – there's an odd power cut to the guitar and mics for the final third of "Leave It" and the all-important acoustic riffs of "Ivy & Gold" get lost in a strange sound mix that mutes their effectiveness – but even in its less impressive moments tonight's gig offers a glimpse of the natural talent and stylistic dexterity of Steadman and company.

What makes it memorable, however, is the force of the group at full tilt. BBC specialise in the climactic, and with closer "Open House" – one of the group's earliest releases – they craft an appropriately bullish finale to a finely constructed show.

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