Bombay Bicycle Club + Peace + Sivu, Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – 10/12/14
Bombay Bicycle Club have never been ones to follow the crowd. Since their indie rock debut, I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, over five years ago, the Crouch End quartet have experimented with the likes of acoustic folk to Bollywood-inspired electronica, in turn making their own little music scene. Their most recent album, So Long, See You Tomorrow, topped the UK album chart making it plain to everyone that a bit of reinvention can’t be a bad thing.
Encompassing dreamy melodies and comforting vocals, Sivu, aka James Page, opens the night with introspective accounts of Noah’s Ark in Bodies and existentialism in Miracle (Human Error). Although much calmer and softer than his successors, Sivu has no issues in breaking the ice and catching everyone’s attention.
It’s time to say goodbye to the solely intimate shows as even with the size of the Civic Hall, there’s no holding back for Peace as they pull off the same boisterous live sets they’re known and loved for. Beginning with a misleading, soft opening to Lovesick, they soon give the signal for all to let loose until the very second they walk off stage. Mixing funked up beats off their upcoming second album Happy People and classics from their debut In Love could have been a risky move but the tried and tested tracks go down as adored as the rest. Wraith sees the crowd and lead singer Harry Koisser harmonising the croons of ‘you could be my iceage sugar’ as if in love and the romance seems never ending with World Pleasure finishing things off. Indulging everyone one last time with jazzy riffs and their first foray into the world of rap, Peace aren’t shy in showing that they’re moving away from the EP Delicious days and it should be welcomed with open arms.
Scatty rhythms of Overdone beckon the dimming of lights and arrival of Bombay Bicycle Club. Never ones to kick up a fuss, they put their heads down and carry on straight through to Come To, prolonging the eastern influence of their fourth record. Passing the responsibility of the claps and hypnotic riffs to the audience, frontman Steadman stands back in admiration, declaring Wolverhampton as one of the loudest crowds he’s ever been in front of.
It’s not long till the baton is passed on to A Different Kind Of Fix for the fan favourites to takeover. Not wanting to dampen the mood, they storm through Shuffle and Your Eyes, urging the crowd to persevere through the chaos. Faced with a room of pits holding sweaty teenagers, Home By Now seems like a good choice to let the mellow dance beats take over and give everyone a short break.
The variety of Bombay Bicycle Club’s back catalogue makes their shows even more exciting as the quick shift from electronica to acoustic folk goes almost without comment. The Flaws interlude begins with little bedlam as Steadman strips everything back and holds control with Rinse Me Down, leaving him and female vocalist, Liz Lawrence overpowering the whole venue. Soon enough, normality is resumed with Ivy & Gold with the strobes and amps turned right up to 10, forgetting about the quavering vocals and soft-handed finger picking version on the record.
Bombay Bicycle Club always set out to put on a show. The So Long, See You Tomorrow era sees them backed by boards of animations and clips of them during the gig. The Bollywood-inspired track saw the crowd stop the pits to dance like the Jungle Book snake animations embodied onstage with MacColl, Nash and Steadman all following suit. Anthemic Luna leads on, not taking away from the energy in the wake of Feel. Bold brash melodies crash out leaving energy bouncing off the walls – it’s everything you wouldn’t expect from the reserved London guys.
The tradition for Bombay at festivals is to bring The Brass Notes along with them, mainly for their biggest track Always Like This. After the funk-inducing basslines from Ed Nash, it’s what it’s known for so the big announcement from Jack Steadman is greatly welcomed and leaves the crowd erupting into pits everywhere. They leave on the melancholic note of title track So Long, See You Tomorrow which creeps towards its Pacman-style drop through slow-paced, silky vocals.
After a couple of minutes of unwanted loneliness onstage, drummer Suren de Saram returns unaided driving excitement up high with a few rhythms on the drums before the rest run back on to give him a hand. They fly into a rocket-fuelled finale, starting with What If, not wanting to leave their early days behind just yet. Keeping the blinding strobes and angsty riffs intact, they go on into Carry Me. Though lacking confetti, they bring the evening to a close with the routine, dance basslines and anthemic lyrics giving everyone one last chance to go mental.
Bombay Bicycle Club exceed expectations with every release and every tour, making it even harder for themselves to do one better next time. We all know they’ll still be able to do it though, they always do.
Words: Becky Rogers | Photos: Jonathan Morgan