The quality of a song can always be measured by hearing it in its most basic form. The acoustic version of a song can reveal its true beauty, if it still engages you, then it must be good. Having already built up a passionate following after their debut album, I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, Bombay Bicycle Club decided to change direction, and duly released their acoustic album titled, Flaws. It was certainly a risk to ditch the electric guitars barely a year after the release of their incredibly successful debut; however, it has proved to be a risk worth taking. Flaws is a beautiful album, one that has been further enhanced by the band’s decision to promote the album on a tour around the churches of the United Kingdom. This decision was completely justified by the simplistic surrounding and brilliant acoustics provided by St George’s church in Bristol.
The church setting provided the perfect complement to the music, enabling the beautiful ache of Jack Steadman’s peculiar yet wonderful voice to echo throughout the venue. The set started with the Flaws opener, ‘Rinse Me down’, a song comprising of simplistic plucking on the acoustic guitar and banjo, backed by a steady drum beat. It appeared so easy, yet at the same time it sounded wonderful. Following the opener was another new track from the acoustic album, ‘Many Ways’, a song that is dominated by the coherence between the banjo and Steadman’s voice. The North London quartet then played acoustic versions of two songs from their debut album, both to marvelous effect. ‘Dust On The Ground’ was one of the highlights of the performance, a hauntingly beautiful version, which proved enchanting in such minimalistic surroundings. Whilst not on the new album, ‘Evening/Morning’ lifted the mood with its high tempo, and thoroughly jovial banjo capturing the essence of the electric original.
Steadman is undoubtedly the focus of Bombay’s new acoustic direction; in fact, his bedroom is where most of the album was produced. His unique voice is the focal point of the album, and consequently the live show is equally reliant upon the young front man. As the rest of the band came and went around him, he remained seated throughout the show. His heartbreaking cover of Loudon Wainwright III’s ‘Motel Blues’, with the rest of the band leaving the front man to his own devices, emphasised his integral role in the production of Flaws. However, normal service was quickly resumed as the rest of the boys returned for a brilliant version of ‘Ivy & Gold’, the first single from Flaws. Unfortunately, the end was drawing near, but not until Bombay delivered a stunning performance of ‘The Giantess’, the final song from I had The Blues. The boys then exited the stage briefly, before returning for an encore comprising of the brilliant, ‘Always Like This’ and ‘Swansea’. Bombay Bicycle Club provided a show that demonstrated their seamless transition from electric to acoustic, in a live performance that will live long in the memory.