I woke up this morning with a sore throat, a vague feeling of dehydration, a black stamp on my hand and the song Cancel On Me in my head. It took me a moment to register why this all was; I had been to see Bombay Bicycle Club in Southampton the night before.
Our little group was all set to meet up, having been ditched by a couple of losers who would rather watch the rugby. So, we waited and waited for the last member of our group to arrive, only he never did. After waiting nearly an hour, we decided we'd had enough, that he was an idiot, and left.
Arriving in Southampton, we decided to confirm directions with the information lady, although I already had a crazily tiny map. She said it would be easier to get the bus and walk from there. We did this, ended up even further away from the damn venue and had to ask countless people for directions. I'm pretty sure we're lost, then we see a familiar looking guy standing outside a large van.
"Oh", I say to drummer, Suren De Saram, "You're in Bombay Bicycle Club... You must know where The Joiners is?"
He points and we embarrassedly look right next to us to see what is painfully clearly the venue.
So, what is it about Bombay Bicycle Club? One of the reviews on their MySpace page speaks of singer and guitarist Jack Steadman's sheer talent, and if you haven't seen them live I don't think you can truly understand that. Yes; when listening to the songs they are, in all aspects, astounding and he's clearly got talent, but when you see them live you realise just how much of the stuff he has. It's practically oozing out of him tonight, pouring into the audience in buckets; vats even - the effect is like alcohol, making everyone lose their inhibitions and just start dancing. Jack manages to be a frontman of a different sort, because he plays guitar as well as singing, so he can't do all that fancy, toss around the microphone stuff which so many frontmen at the moment do. But he really doesn't need to. He reaches out to everyone in the audience tonight with his powerful yet never over the top lyrics, with his big smiles, his crazy dancing and his unusual but lovely, tremolo Devendra Banhart crossed with Julian Casablancas vocals. Each member of the band, in fact, is full of charisma and each of them is supremely talented at what they do.
They take us through an amazing set, guitarist Jamie MacColl constantly grinning at the excitable audience. Bassist Ed Nash invited those of us on the front row to get on stage during Open House (bit of wordplay there) which was really quite bizarre. Every song they played took the young audience to a new height of euphoria, singing along and screaming for more. It is in Cancel On Me that the entire evening is taken to a new level, for me at least. As one of my favourite BBC songs, I was anxious that it would perhaps not be up to the standard of the recorded version. This performance banished my doubts, Jack's anger and pain evident as he tears his way through the stunning outro of the stunning song; BBC are one of the few bands that manage to be even better live than recorded. And they're amazing recorded.
How Are You
Cancel On Me
Magnet (as an encore, after much coaxing)
That order's not right I don't think; I can't remember exactly. It was a short set, but a flawless (well, other than the time something went wrong with the leads), very promising one. Afterwards I realised they hadn't played Maybe More, which definitely adds to the incentive of next time being soon.
After this I buy the new EP - 'How We Are', and how they are is absolutely brilliant. Then I decided to be lame, because I can, and got the CD signed, and a picture with a "dripping" Jack. I am the height of cool.
We had a bit of a chat which was quite surreal - talking to the members from one of my favourite bands - and it was good to see that they weren't at all arrogant. Then they left and we were left to wait for a taxi that never came because the idiots at the company had a computer crash and didn't send us a driver. They said they would send one as soon as possible, but then we missed the ferry. What ensued was me half crying, half laughing, dying of hypothermia while the others all swore. We walked back to the docks, risking being mugged because they never did actually send the taxi and waited.
It started off badly and ended badly, but then, I love to complain, and the middle was absolutely amazing so it all evens out. And hearing Ed actually use the phrase "bare sick" when we were crammed into their tour van was the icing on an already tasty cake.
Buy their EPs and go and see them live as soon as you can. You won't regret it.