Monday 17th March saw the wonderful Bombay Bicycle Club stop off here in Exeter on their current tour. The Great Hall is probably not the most exciting venue the London based Indie four-piece have played, but it served its purpose and was a very pleasant surprise for keen fans (such as myself) here at the Uni.
The evening was sold out and the crowd’s energy was tangible from the outset. Support band Flyte took to the stage and entertained us with a half hour set of what I can only describe as nostalgic synth pop- very harmless and perfect for Summer! Flyte are a new band, having only released a single last week, but certainly showed promise and got the crowd suitably warmed up. Although, I must admit I was much more excited for Rae Morris, having fallen in love with her charm, her soul (and her hair!) after seeing her support Bombay in 2012. When she walked out onstage and sat down by the piano I had doubts on whether she’d be able to fill the room and hold everybody’s attention; however such worries were soon appeased! The vocals were spectacular and her lyrics have certainly matured since the last time I saw her. She finished with new song ‘Do You Even Know?’ which somehow managed to simultaneously sound like an 80s club classic and a soulful ballad and got everybody swaying and smiling.
After another interlude, in which the audience were treated to some DJ classics in order to sustain the excitement, Bombay finally appeared. The crowd erupted as they opened with ‘Overdone’, the opening track on their newest album ‘So Long See You Tomorrow’, which really sets the standard of Bombay’s latest work and gives an indication of the new direction this band are taking. Contagious percussion, thumping bass lines and ethereal vocals from frontman Steadman combined in a real electric start to the night, alongside the wonderful visuals of the animated projections on the screens behind the band. This band was telling us that they’re big players in the industry now!
The set-list was definitely dominated by singles from the newest album, although in true Bombay style there were some harks back to their earlier roots with ‘Lamplight’ and ‘Evening/Morning’ which were received with just as much gusto. Highlights of the evening included a triumphant performance of bhangra-influenced ‘Feel’ and ‘Home By Now’, in which backing vocalist Liz Lawrence really came into her own and performed beautifully with Steadman. Rae Morris too, made a reappearance to sing on ‘Luna’, creating exquisite harmonies. Another quirk of the set-list was the addition of a brass trio, which complimented the jazzy flair Bombay are so adept at capturing. As a result, catchy dance number ‘It’s Always Like This’ was transformed into a orchestral masterpiece, which got everybody jumping and grooving in equal measure.
The energy of the band, especially that of Steadman and drummer Suren was reciprocated and amplified by the lively crowd, who clapped, shouted, and jumped incessantly and yet still managed to keep respectfully quiet for a moving rendition of piano ballad ‘Eyes Off You’. I must admit that Bombay have an impressive ability to make even mediocre tracks from the album seem like their biggest hits when playing live, even tracks I initially wasn’t sure about on CD were given a whole new life by the enthusiasm on stage. The evening finished with the highly fuelled ‘Carry Me’, in which the band showed us exactly what they are capable of, pounding drums and strumming guitars like their lives depended on it . It was a brilliant end to a dynamic evening of dancing and admiration for the diversity of the amazing Bombay Bicycle Club. They have come so far in the past eight years and yet one thing has always remained the same: boy, can they put on a show!
(image from pearshaped)
by Sinead Buckingham, Razz Exeter Correspondent