Monday, 11 August 2008

Bombay Bicycle Club - live at Hamptons

Bombay Bicycle Club were - as ever - a treat on August 6th at fairly new Southampton venue, Hamptons (we’re pretending ‘as ever’ doesn’t imply that I’ve seen them more than twice). I’ll try not to bore you with too much detail, having reviewed them once already. There were two local support bands, both of whom are worth checking out. The first band was called President Zebra. When they started playing we were stood outside (the venue was insanely hot) and we decided to judge whether to go in or not by the first song. We went in. They played songs which generally had a Blur-esque feel to them with ‘Damon Albarn-without-the-London-accent’ drawling vocals, though one or two - in their slightly spacier, more complex instrumentals - were definite nods to Muse, while one sounded very Bloc Party. They were pretty good, although there were some minor setbacks what with feedback, and the general lack of enthused atmosphere at this early point in the evening did not help the tone. I would say their songs were definitely more hit than miss, and that’s a compliment considering how tough it is for a support band to shine through. They were clearly enjoying themselves which is always a plus, and managed to warm up the crowd well, getting them to clap along and even dance. The second support band – Suplex – were obviously enjoying themselves too, but in a very different way. Their sound completely shocked the crowd – it seemed everyone was expecting some sort of nice, non-commital indie, not an explosion of craziness melded together to form this chaotic yet somehow organised noise. Not everyone’s cup of tea perhaps (some of the audience looked horrified), but I actually really liked it. There was probably still feedback going on, but in the strange mash-up of sounds you couldn’t really tell. Mainly instrumental stuff which is always a welcome change in my books, and while some of it got a little too heavy for me – not a big fan of too much yelling – it was generally very enjoyable. Their songs made me think of a strange mix of My Bloody Valentine and Le Tigre – odd, urgent, and exciting. They ended with a frantic cover of ‘The Hill’ and made it into something completely different; completely their own. I feel bad that we were sat down during their set, but considering the amount we’d walked that day (one friend insisting she would get D.V.T. if she didn’t get to sit down soon) and how scarce seats were, I think it was forgivable. Try and catch them live if you’re more outgoing than most in your musical tastes. After a quick breath of fresh air we slipped in the front and waited for Bombay. The band took to the stage, and after setting up, vocalist/guitarist, Jack Steadman raised an arm in the air: they were starting. The same crowd who had stood with arms hanging and blank expressions moments earlier suddenly became a whole lot more excitable. The set got off to a slow start due to problems with the sound, which was clearly frustrating the band, but things soon got heated up – in both senses as it was also steaming up the windows kind of hot. Here is what they played, and what happened while they played: ‘Open House’ – got everyone hyped up with its fast-paced, jumpy riffs, but you could barely hear the vocals. ‘Ghost’ – jerky yet smooth instrumentals, with the addition of thankfully louder vocals; the sound was vastly improved in this one. You could really see the interplay between the instruments. ‘How Are You’ – everything perfect in this shimmering yet upbeat, almost ghostly song with stark, honest lyrics. It got the moshers started; this didn’t bode well for the other girls on the front row. ‘Sixteen’ – great as ever, with much singing along. However, a loud argument ensued because a girl was pushed headfirst onto the stage. ‘Lamplight’ (new song) – annoyingly cannot remember properly, mainly because there was still a fight going on. It was pretty rock-y, but lighter in tone than the grittiness of E/M. ‘Evening/Morning’ – finally hearing the band say the title meant that the mystery of whether you say the ‘slash’ was solved – you say it. Interesting stuff. Crowd got crazy for this rollicking number with an almost folk-y twang, full of playful stops and starts. ‘What If’ – the band looked worried/amused upon seeing this was the next song on the set list. Jack wished everyone good luck, realising that this march-like song with tight riffs would mean painful crushing. He was not wrong. ‘Cancel On Me’ – everyone calmed down a bit for this one (unless I had just become numb by this point), which was good as it’s still one of my favourites. Beautiful. ‘The Hill’ or, ‘how I learned to stop worrying and ruined an entire song’ – basically, there was a small stage invasion in this nostalgic, summer-y song, just because the crush was so bad at the front. I moved slightly further back on the stage, solely because I didn’t want to get in the way of the band – oh, the irony. After dancing and singing along I suddenly realised that the rest of the crowd had returned to the audience section. Oh dear. Anyway, they’re very nice people and carried on as though it was normal to have me there (although at one point I think guitarist Jamie Maccoll may have been glaring at me). Jack even let himself become engulfed by the clawing crowd. Although there was the usual sadness of, “but they didn’t play ____”, no-one had the energy to ask for an encore – it was too hot, and I think everyone was too tired. It’s hard to say whether they’ve improved since October since they appear to be so consistently good live. The atmosphere of a larger crowd definitely seemed to make them smile even more – that’s a really nice thing about seeing them live; they always seem so happy and excited about it. Their tour is huge, so there’s no excuse for not seeing them in all their live glory. Dates can be found HERE. Go watch, go enjoy. BBC are: Suren De Saram, Jamie Maccoll, Jack Steadman and Ed Nash Photo credits: Live and Loud

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