It’s not often that big-name indie bands choose Portsmouth Guildhall as a stop on their UK tours, usually travelling to Southampton or Brighton is the best bet for us music lovers in the South; so on the announcement of Bombay Bicycle Club I knew it was an opportunity that shouldn’t really be missed.
The support for the evening came from up and coming female singer-songwriters, Rae Morris and Lianne La Havas. Both had distinctive voices and played their songs well, however it would have been nice to have another band, or perhaps something slightly more uplifting to get the crowd, (who spent most of their time at the bar), in the mood for Bombay. Saying that both artists are likely to have a strong career ahead of them, with Rae Morris’ Ellie Goulding esque vocals and Lianne La Havis showing all of us ladies how a guitar should be played.
By the time Bombay Bicycle Club were due, most of the crowd had drunk the bar dry and were ready to let loose. Fitting you could say that Bombay’s introduction music was Sir Mix-a-lot’s Jump On It, not exactly what you’d expect from the indie four piece but it went down a treat.
As soon as the echoing vocals of ‘How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep’ were heard, the crowd erupted, clapping and screaming in joy (probably helped by the alcohol). Bombay appear behind a transparent curtain displaying various cosmic-style patterns, vocalist Jack Steadman introducing the song in a somewhat charming fashion, before the curtain drops and the rest of the band launch into the track.
Now, personally my appreciation for a band can greatly increase or decrease when I see them live. If a band or artist puts as much effort into the set design and lighting as they do their music, it can really make the show so much more impressive. As Bombay lead into ‘Your Eyes’ the crowd are blasted with an incredible lighting display, with strobes and flashing lights galore, only adding to the emphasis they put into the music. It’s clear from this point on that we are all in for one hell of a show and I was really quite excited to see what else was to come.
Bombay’s set had a brilliant mix of tracks from their three albums and each was delivered with just as much energy as the next, the guys had clearly thought this tour through carefully and selected some of their best tracks to perform. Lucy Rose also made an appearance throughout their whole set, as some will know her vocals appear on almost all of the tracks on latest record ‘A Different Kind Of Fix’, making the set even better than I had imagined it would be.
The only disappointment of the show was the performance of ‘Still’, which was completely stripped back with just Jack and Lucy singing together at the piano. A song that could have sounded amazing live if the crowd just stayed quite for the length of the song. Instead I stood struggling to hear anything over all the chatter going on around me.
“Save the best until last” sums up the final tracks on the setlist. Pre-encore saw ‘Always Like This’ send the crowd in a giant dancing frenzy, with mosh-pits turning into dance-pits that were full of love and appreciation for the band, and for the first time in a long time, I shuffled my way towards the front to make the most of it.
Bombay disappear for the briefest of moments before returning and going full blast into ‘Shuffle’ which had everyone up on their feet, jumping around and singing along. If it wasn’t for the roof over our heads and the warmth from being indoors, it could easily have felt as if we were all at a festival, the atmosphere was incredible. Finishing up with ‘What If’, both band and audience gave it everything they had, using up all their energy and leaving on a massive high.
After going in not really expecting much, I left completely in awe of everything I had just experienced and with a new level of appreciation for Bombay Bicycle Club as a band. Now if more bands could make room for Portsmouth on their tours, so I could have similar experiences that would be greatly appreciated, even if my bank balance doesn’t agree!
Photography Credit: Danny Jack Photography