Rating: 5/5 stars
Coming to the Leeds O2 Academy, placed hidden on the side of Pop world in the city centre not far from the universities, museum and town hall, the atmosphere was like a mix of an indie club night and a couples evening out. Free tote bags were given on entering the standing area (bonus) and the floor was well dispersed at this time that I could slid into the front from the right side to the bottom of the stage, perfect for listening pleasure. Liz Lawrence, who regularly provides backing vocals and lyrics for Bombay, was on stage bringing people in as the first support act, ringing out songs from her latest LP, Pity Party.
The Big Moon are a four-piece punk-pop girl band with hues of 90s grunge rock in their first album, and dream pop in their second release. Juliette Jackson is lead vocals and guitar, Soph Nathan is guitar and vocals, Celia Archer is bass and vocals, and Fern Ford is on drums; they took the stage as the second support act for the evening. Your Light is an uplifting piece of indie pop glamour to lose yourself in (ironically with the lyrics) accompanied by the echoing backing vocals of the group and tell-all lyricism that will make you fond of The Big Moon’s style. The supporting band played singles from their 2020 LP release, Walking Like We Do, including one of my new infectious favourites, Don’t Think, and Cupid from their first release, Love in the 4th Dimension. The group were receiving major cheers from the crowd, with someone nearby me saying “girls supporting girls”. It’s Easy Then is a sweet build up with the direction “swallow me up” and the drummer pulling out her trumpet for the latter, beautiful transition in the song met with heavy cheers and delight. We love a brass instrument especially fittingly for the gig as it’s a true Bombay characteristic in their later music. Juliette pre-warned they were about to do a ‘slow one’ and I found myself in my emotions mesmerised to the lyrics and rock pop-ballad Waves.
Bombay Bicycle Club is Jack Steadman (lead vocals, guitar, xylophone, banjo), Ed Nash (bass guitar, backing vocals), Jamie MacColl (guitar, backing vocals), and Suren de Saram (drums). After seeing the acoustic set in Rough Trade Nottingham a week ago, including singles from their Flaws album, I was super excited for the electric set where the other songs could come to life; although, I still did not expect the array of nostalgic songs that we were so lucky to get. At one point it wasn’t crazy to think it was a So Long, See You Tomorrow (their 2014 album before the hiatus) gig because we were spoilt with Feel, Overdone, Home By Now, Luna and Carry Me.
Luna is best known for its recognisable bubbly intro (think akin to underwater bubbles because of the synchronised swimming music video). Carry Me was played as the faux pas ‘last song’ but really they were coming back out for the title track of the new album and the encore. The bass guitar on Overdone snapped as usual, a particular favourite live along with Feel, which was played with deep bass, high-strung guitars and greatly-powered horns for a true, jazz and Indian music-inspired feel.
Eat, Sleep, Wake, Nothing But You opened the gig with Steadman’s wish to top the other great gigs Bombay recently had at Leeds Brudenell Social Club. Followed by a jovial Is It Real?, the live version made me appreciate the song more hearing the riffs and lyrics in person. I Can Hardly Speak, another single from the comeback LP, was performed with consistent flare. A highlight was definitely hearing the opening samples to I Worry Bout You, which is a personal favourite (of many favourites) on the new album with the blare of the trumpets in the elated culmination of the song. Everything Else Has Gone Wrong made up half of the encore when the band re-entered the stage, giving it their all for this fast-tempo song that sees the subject of the lyrics come through the other side of their troubles.
Good Day from the new album consisted of beautiful bass that had me in the motions, singing all the lyrics I didn’t realise I now subconsciously knew, with the outro (which I now have a new appreciation of) strummed out romantically into How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep? (another masterpiece to be frank) for the beginning of the four tracks to be played from the excellency of A Different Kind of Fix album after some nostalgic songs.
Your Eyes stunned me and the crowd, shocked that we could hear such a throwback gem, it honestly brings a tear to the eye hearing the beautiful build up of the song on repeat. Lights Out, Words Gone was another highlight, being my all-time favourite, if it’s possible to have one favourite Bombay song. One word: bass. Still to this day as the sounds and deepness of the vibe never get old and really bring you to a grimacing bass face. Shuffle played out with another deep bass rift and incredulous sounds that get you moving.
The nostalgia I noted above was from this collection of songs from I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose as Jamie announced a nod to its ten year anniversary last year, bringing the songs to us now if we missed their anniversary return shows, which I sadly did at the time. Cancel on Me gave me the goosebumps its intro always does with the haunting sound over Jamie’s incredible guitar solo, chills for such an all-round album, and I cannot emphasise enough how good this song is with Steadman’s tremulous vocals laced on top.
Meanwhile, Dust on the Ground carries a duality of greatness in that this song can be performed so deftly, and so crisp in both acoustic and electric formats to the point where it’s a struggle to compare them because they become stand alone pieces of art. Evening/Morning was played with no hesitation of call and response from the crowd, performed with infectious energy from all members of the band. Of course you cannot play ode to the debut album without playing It’s Always Like This – the encore, the closer, the confirmer of Bombay’s ability to hype a crowd into a frenzy.
All images are my own