Having announced an indefinite hiatus back in 2016 and with numerous solo projects in full swing, fans had long since given up any hope of London indie heroes, Bombay Bicycle Club, getting back together. Five, seemingly endless years passed, but still nothing. Then, at exactly 4pm on Monday 14 January, 2019, a tweet was sent out into the world that reignited the fire in indie lovers hearts… the band were not only reforming, but making new music too.
The past year has bought the release of the group’s fifth studio album, Everything Else Has Gone Wrong, a five-date countrywide tour to celebrate 10 years since I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, as well as the announcement of a global run of gigs starting in January and continuing through to the midst of festival season.
With just a couple of days of their twelve date UK tour left, Bombay Bicycle Club took to the stage of the 4,500 capacity Brighton Centre on Saturday night. Joining them were fellow Londoners, four-piece indie rock band The Big Moon. With their crunchy guitar tones and grungy vocals, the girls kicked things off with fan favourites ‘Sucker’ and ‘Cupid’ before indulging in recent tracks ‘Don’t Think’ and ‘Why’ from their second studio album, Walking Like We Do. The band also won unfamiliar hearts with an alternative rendition of Fatboy Slim’s 1999 hit, ‘Praise You’.
Four window-like squares are visible above the stage, flashing from red to purple to blue as Bombay Bicycle Club make their entrance. The room is packed as crackly synth and heavy bass lines signal the start of the band’s comeback single ‘Eat Sleep Wake (Nothing But You)’, causing the crowd to snap back to attention. The gentle shakiness of frontman Jack Steadman’s voice is comforting, and the tracks soon slip into a delicate balance between the older, nostalgic summer ramblings and the newer songs which still somehow manage to sound familiar.
The powerful intro of ‘Feel’ (a sample from an old 1954 Bollywood track) changes the tone of the gig completely, rhythmically pulsing through the venue and jerking the audience from their trance of relaxation. The historical significance of the track’s origin, taken in part from Lata Mangeshkar’s “Man Dole Mera Tan Dole”, transports the crowd to a different time and place, the distinct sound of the pungi bringing a vibrancy that only comes from music with a timeless story.
Referring back to their string of November shows in celebration of the I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Lose 10 year anniversary, rough opening guitar strums quickly develop into ‘Cancel on Me’ and the crowd are driven into a frenzy as they are transported back to 2007. But it’s the band’s closing track, ‘Always Like This’, that completes the evening. The first song that most in the crowd would have heard from the band all those years ago, it feels a fitting end to the group’s first show in Brighton in five years.
At the end of the day, there’s an undeniably comforting familiarity to the tracks of Bombay Bicycle Club that somehow manage make you feel as if you’ve heard them before and known them forever. If anything, this was more evident on Saturday night than ever before. Despite having been away for half a decade, the atmosphere was still the same as it ever was at a Bombay Bicycle Club gig, and it was almost as if the band had never left us at all.