January 13th | SWX
So Long, See You Tomorrow was the last brilliant breath of one of the most dynamic indie bands of the late noughties. It saw Bombay Bicycle Club bowing out at the dizzying peak of their success. They left with a wild tour full of the warped indietronica they perform so well and, to top it off, a Number 1 album. Even after all these years, the muted buzz about their revival is astonishing.
Yet it didn’t take long to bring the hype machine back. A sea of flashing lights ignited the lively ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)’, a decidedly upbeat start to the evening. Their comeback single sent a clear signal that the band are more united than ever. Despite the bleak undertones in the new material, the live experience convincingly masked the melancholy behind the music.
Beaming beyond its sad serenade, ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’ saw Steadman reverse what could be a solemn denouncement of the world we live in. Instead he sang “I’ve finally found my second wind,” referring to his long-awaited return to creating new music. What starts as a cynical and pessimistic track ends with an uplifting crescendo fit for a happy ending to a series finale or independent film – take your pick.
However this was an album launch show, and how could we not mention the new material? Recorded in California, ‘Is It Real?’ is home to the infectious shoegaze riffs that made them such a tantalising prospect in the first place. Clearly the bright rays of the Golden State rubbed off on this ‘Is This Real?’ and ‘Good Day’, and injected a heady shot of euphoria into the audience. Going full steam ahead with the deep question of ‘Do You Feel Loved?’ made for a stirring clincher that summed up their new era perfectly.
‘I Can Hardly Speak’ was one of the solid stand-outs from the gradual roll-out of new songs they have released to the world. The sheer joy of the clattering instrumental concealed Steadman’s emotive lyrics about not being able to talk. Despite bemoaning the lack of conversation, they clearly still have a lot to say. Even if ironically the best of the new cuts revolved around the struggle to write.
A welcome blast of nostalgia that fuelled an exhilarating four minutes was the stuttering piano melody of ‘Shuffle’. Nobody can butcher a piano this beautifully and make it sound so catchy. It doesn’t seem so long ago, but it is in fact eleven years ago that ‘Always Like This’ was their swansong to success, selling 200,000 copies (in the days people actually bought singles). The hearty chant of “I’m not whole, I’m not whole,” was reflected back to Steadman from a devoted crowd who sang it with the same conviction as the frontman.
While Jack Steadman was balder, the band themselves were bolder. No compromises were made here and they looked confidently to the future. They remain one of the most progressive indie bands of the past decade putting on a show like it was their last. Let’s pray this time it isn’t.
See the video for ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)’ here: