Last night I left work and walked a few blocks to catch about 80% of Royal Canoe’s opening set at House of Blues, followed by headliners Bombay Bicycle Club. I’m glad I got there when I did because the place was already packed. It hardly felt like I was watching an opening act at all, as Royal Canoe seemed to have full command of the audience through the portion of their set I got to see. I wasn’t terribly familiar with them before, but I’ll definitely check them out when I have some time. They had a lot of tricks up their sleeves, using multiple synths and vocal filters to create the sounds they needed. A great performance that definitely got the crowd amped for the set from Bombay Bicycle Club.
I’m on record as saying I’m not really a big fan of Bombay Bicycle Club’s last album A New Kind Of Fix. I think a lot of my problems with it stem from the fact that I like Flaws SO much that the departure from that sound bothered me. I’m happy to report that their newest release, So Long, See You Tomorrow, is much better. They stick to their guns and go with the more pop and dance-influenced tunes, but the songs are written better and they’ve figured out some sonic stuff that makes the whole thing coalesce.
I’d never seen BBC live before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Right off the bat I was impressed with how big they sound. Opening with the first two tracks off SLSYT it was easy to see they were excited to be playing new music and introduce old fans to the new stuff they may not have heard yet. So interested was the band in playing newer music that they left Flaws completely untouched for the whole set. Unfortunate in my mind, but those songs don’t really mix in a set with their new direction. They did reach way, way back and play a couple tracks from I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose.
Frontman Jack Steadman seemed to be in pretty good spirits, flashing a big smile after the first couple songs. Banter wasn’t a big part of the show, as he more often than not just said “Thank you.” after each song, if he said anything at all. I prefer that to the more chit-chatty performers. He and the band let the music speak for itself, and I thought the statement they made was emphatically, “This is who we are. Love us or hate us.” The adoring audience opened their arms and accepted Bombay Bicycle Club like a mother would embrace a newborn baby.
After spending a few songs up front taking pictures, I moved to the back where the sound is usually a bit better. I also wanted to be able to enjoy the light show. From my earlier perspective it just seemed like strobe lights blinding me, but from the back it was much more impressive. They have a well thought out plan going on with their rig, including some songs having the words appear on the screens behind the band so you can sing along.
The highlight of the show, for me, came when Steadman finally sat down at the keyboard for the song “Luna.” The live arrangement is a little bit different than the album version. It starts off much more quiet, which led to a bunch of people running to the bathroom or bar. I hate it when folks do that, because they miss some of that intimacy you get when it’s just one person on stage playing and singing. Especially with a voice like Jack’s, which I’ve always enjoyed for its vulnerability. Anyway, the song builds into an eruption of sound with the drum and guitar coming in full closer to the end and Jack jumped up from the keys to grab his own guitar and rock away on the outro of the song.
I’d definitely recommend seeing Bombay Bicycle Club live. Even if you don’t think you’re really into their music, they seem to have a way of winning people over. By the time they got to the song “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep” I didn’t even care that they weren’t going to play anything off Flaws. It’s the same feeling I get from a lot of bands I follow-sometimes I won’t like the studio version of a song, but when I hear it live it takes on a whole new personality. So give ’em a try. You won’t be disappointed.
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