Bombay Bicycle Club is an English indie rock band from Crouch End, London, consisting of Jack Steadman (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Jamie MacColl (guitar), Suren de Saram (drums) and Ed Nash (bass). On our way to the stage door we happened across a member of the B.B.C team, we asked him how the opening night of the tour went in Leicester and he responded positively saying that he hoped the audience in Plymouth were going to be as good, well read on to find out if they were!
We arrived at the venue early as we had a date with Sivu (one of the support acts) for a chat and a general catch up (we met in Exeter when he supported Nick Mulvey recently). We saw that the main entrance was not open to the public and was full of teenagers sat about (in the cold) waiting for the gates to open so they could make sure of their place at the front of the stage to swoon over their idols.
After chatting to Sivu we decided to pay homage to Bombay Bicycle Club by visiting the local Wetherspoons to indulge in the Thursday night ‘Curry Club’ (do you see what I did there?), I secretly think that they had arranged to play in Plymouth on a Thursday just so they could say this in interviews…..Anyway, after a sub-standard chicken Tikka Masala we left the hostelry, feeling refreshed and ready to take in an evening of fine musical entertainment.
Up first was Sivu, James Page is the main man, he calls himself Sivu as this is the Finnish word for Page (his grandparents are Finnish)…. They took to the stage bang on time and launched into their first track ‘My oh My’.
I had only seen James performing solo before so to hear him with a full backing band was nothing short of magical, you could actually ‘feel’ what he was singing, the strength of the instruments really bringing each song to life.
He went on to play another 5 tracks, all of which are on his long player. ‘Better Man Than He’ received the biggest cheer (people had obviously checked out the video he did in the M.R.I. scanner on YouTube). He ended with a great track called ‘Sleep’, which started off as a slow burner, just Sivu and his guitar noodling away nicely until the remainder of the band joined him, electrifying the track and raising the roof off the Pavilions.
During my chat with James before the show, he said how excited he was about performing the new material from his debut album ‘Something on High’, we recently had a listen to the album and were just as excited! After watching his set, it was great to see the audience really warming to him, he deserves to be up there with the best of them and I hope that big opportunities come his way soon as he is a true gent, a rising star and I feel that 2015 will be his year!
My oh My
Better Man Than He
Peace are a 4 piece classic indie pop/rock act who possess a confidence that oozes from every pore, not surprising as they received critical acclaim from The Guardian and The NME in 2012 and went on to become nominees for the BBC’s Sound of 2013 competition.
Their output is reminiscent of the music I cut my teeth on years ago, great beats, driving melodic bass, laden with hooky, sharp guitar licks that really grab you by the throat and demand your attention. The lights dimmed and out strode 4 guys who received a very large welcome before bursting straight into their first track ‘Lovesick’ which had the front row up and moving immediately.
I think it was during ‘Lost on Me’ that Harry lost connection with his guitar, it wasn’t long before the tech got him back up and running and he was able to continue the song without breaking a sweat, though I’m sure he would disagree with me!
‘Gen Strange’ lifted the crowd, clearly a favourite from the new album, lyrics being sung back to them whilst the pit grew in volume, causing a security guard (I thought for a while they were cardboard cutouts to deter people from having too much of a good time) came to life, flashing his LED torch at a wrong-doer who had decided to climb on his mate’s shoulders for a better view, how dare he, what if he slipped and injured himself? Health and safety is of paramount importance at gigs these days folks, unlike my gig going days where to see a security guard was a rarity!
They ended their short but tailored set with ‘World Pleasure’, full of Stone Roses style goodness from the outset with a thumping tuneful baseline and stacks of wah wah guitar floating over a constant high hat, the song tempted you to let go, swing your hips and generally release and immerse yourself in the sound. The song ended with an ear bending guitar solo that sent the crowd into hyperdrive, a perfect warm up to the main event!
Lost on Me
By the time the lights dipped for the final time, the place was about ¾ full, which, for a cold, midweek December evening in Plymouth wasn’t a bad thing at all. The stage was set for the arrival of the headline act and by the time the intro music kicked in alongside the projected backdrop, the atmosphere inside the venue was at fever pitch.
The drums and keyboards were neatly tucked away on a raised platform towards the back of the stage, the keyboard unit looking like a squashed ‘tardis’ from Doctor Who, I was half hoping that the band may emerge from this device when taking to the stage, much in the same way that OASIS did out of a telephone box on their ‘Be Here Now’ tour and U2 from the giant lemon on the ‘Zooropa’ gigs, sadly they didn’t….
Instead, they strode confidently on stage, took their instruments and subjected the crowd to an awesome opening track with ‘Overdone’, I can’t help but feel that the amount of strobe lighting used in their set was somewhat ‘overdone’ also, it would have been no picnic for any epilepsy sufferers out there!
Shortly into their set, they were joined onstage by their 3 piece brass section that really added to the output, I also forgot that the uber talented Liz Lawrence had recently joined them as backing singer/percussionist and all round multi instrumentalist, I had the privilege of seeing her at a very cosy environment some years ago in Totnes, she looked to be having a whale of a time, leaping about with her tambourine and shaky-shaky device.
The projected backdrops were used effectively throughout their set, the theme seemed to be around that of movement, I saw many animations of figures walking, horses galloping, birds in flight and a man rowing a boat.
They broke midway through the set to play a handful of tracks from their second record including ‘Rinse me Down’, ‘Ivy & Gold’ & 'Dust on the Ground' these were received well and allowed the band to break things down a little accompanied by some effective low level lighting on the stage which helped to cast an artistic glow on the band whilst they took the audience back to 2010.
The backdrops were then exchanged for live cameras that were attached to various points of the stage to capture each of the band members, this looked great and avoided the need to have a small army of camera crew running about the place in an attempt to capture the action.
They introduced a cover version that they had been working on for a while, it took me a couple of minutes and the chorus to learn it was the number 1 hit single ‘With Every Heartbeat’ by Robyn, the stage was peppered with musicians, 9 in total and the track sounded absolutely phenomenal with Liz Lawrence taking centre stage with her acoustic guitar and strong vocals.
It was refreshing to see them play tracks from their latest album ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ as well as harking back to their roots to demonstrate how they have evolved technically over the years and are certainly not a ‘one trick pony’. They played ‘Luna’ which has just been voted number 16 in Zane Lowe’s ‘Hottest Records’ of 2014, which is a superb achievement, being beaten only by the creme de la creme of talent including Royal Blood, Bastille, Ben Howard and Coldplay.
They ended their set with the title track of their latest long player ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ before exiting the stage, I think we all knew that they would be gracing it once again before the curtain fell for the last time.
I was right! They walked back on to a wall of applause from the enthusiastic crowd and belted out ‘What If’, lifted from their 2008 album ‘I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ prior to closing their show with the anthemic singalong track ‘Carry Me’ which had the audience singing the words for Jack, whilst he played guitar and mouthed them from the stage. It is amazing to see just how far B.B.C. have come in little over 6 years and to think that none of the band are over the age of 24 is quite an achievement, may I be so bold as to say that the best is yet to come?
It's Alright Now
Lights Out, Words Gone
Home By Now
Rinse Me Down
Ivy & Gold
The Giantess / Emergency Contraception Blues
Dust on the Ground
How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep
With Every Heartbeat (Robyn cover)
Always Like This
So Long, See You Tomorrow
Review by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Bruce Benson www.241photography.co.uk
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