After arriving late and ill tempered due to a late train, being greeted by Lucy Roses’ wistful semi-acoustic noodling proved to be the perfect soothing remedy.
Taking a step back from her backing vocal duties for tonight, she wooed the crowd with her mixture of soft heart-melting vocals and generous doses of laid-back lilting guitars, which proved to be an incredibly catchy combination.
It is very unfair to think that she is simply riding on the Bombay Bicycle Club band wagon as she more than proved her worth. She summed it up in her own words ‘I don’t really get to do gigs like this with my own band, but you’ve just been amazing tonight’.
Next up was Dry the River, who, with their rugged beards and shaggy manes, looked like they could have just arrived from the plains of rural Texas. Thankfully they had not, and delved straight into a heavy, powerful piece riddled with overdriven electric guitars.
The fact that Dry The River are always getting compared to Mumford & Sons seems slightly befuddling, as they have a more gritty and likeable side, the fact that they also wield acoustic guitars doesn’t automatically make them Mumford and Sons protégées.
Dry the River also combined an acoustic guitar with an electric during their performance, which seemed to give them more depth to their sound. These London boys have one quality that is slightly awe-inspiring, which Mumford and Sons will be incredibly envious of. Their constant three part soaring vocal harmonies were an absolute delight to witness, and they actually came back on stage at the end of Bombay Bicycle Club’s set to combine forces with the purely beautiful voice of Jack Steadman, which proved to be tear-jerking for some.
They finished their relatively short set on a high note with a full-scale folky rock out which contained an awe-inspiring violin solo (which I think every good band should have to be honest!). They seemed to have made a real impression on the packed crowd who responded in an equally frantic fashion, with a mixture of cheers, awkward dancing and head-bobbing.
Now to the headliners. Bombay Bicycle Club are neither from Bombay nor do they own a Bicycle Club, in fact they are Jack, Ed, Suren and Jamie from Crouch End in London. They actually stole their name from their favorite Indian restaurant, but the only thing hot and spicy about the band is their music. Hopefully, most of the crowd were aware of this otherwise they were going to get a rather special surprise tonight.
As the famously glitchy piano of ‘Shuffle’ started to fill the cavernous Rock City, it was met by a spine-tingling roar from the baying crowd. Bombay Bicycle Club have obviously heard the old saying ‘start as you mean to go on.’
Surprisingly, they didn’t actually play a huge amount of their new material. Half way through, lead guitarist Jamie MacColl casually whipped out his battered acoustic guitar and they treated us to some material from their second album, which was a real treat to behold. It is clear to see how much talent these boys have when they can casually switch from being a world-class electric band, to a masterful acoustic act at the drop of a hat.
Bombay are a band who are obviously not taking being a rock star too seriously and its blatant that they genuinely care about their adorning fans as lead singer Jack Steadman inquired in-between songs “are you guys at the front okay? Because you seem to be getting very squashed! But you’re having a good time though which is good”. Aww, how heartwarming boys!
Songs from their debut album were still sounding as fresh and relevant as ever, considering that they’ve been out for a good few years already. Some of the highlights included; ‘Evening/Morning’ which contains a wonderfully chugging bass line and Jack Steadman fondly pronounces, “I am ready to owe you anything.” No need, this delightful little gig you’ve put on tonight is more than enough thank you!
Their penultimate song ‘Always Like This’ is a firm fan favourite. The perfect festival anthem with its bright, breezy and instantly likeable riffs it’s hard to dislike. ‘Always Like This’ has charmed many people onto the Bombay Bicycle Club ship over the past few years, and will probably continue to do so in the near future. It felt almost wrong to be witnessing such beautiful music in such grubby surroundings.
After the last notes of the finale ‘The Giantess’ were allowed to ring out, it was clear to everyone that they had witnessed something rather special which would certainly not be forgotten for a long time to come.