Bombay Bicycle Club at the Guildhall (16/10/11)

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The calm rock vibes of Bombay Bicycle Club embraced Southampton recently, after the release of their third album A Different Kind of Fix. Supported by Lucy Rose (who is a key contributor and participant on the album) and Dry the River, the band were closing off their UK tour which began in September. Although renowned for their limited on-stage charisma, BBC managed to defy the stereotype in front of a capacity crowd at the Guildhall.

Dry the River started off quite slowly, lacking any real engagement with the crowd. After an intriguing interlude involving the lead singer’s lack of footwear however, the band successfully built up to a spirited performance with well-synced vocals on the song ‘Bible Belt’ before finishing off dramatically with ‘Lion’s Den’.

Humble beginnings aside, Dry the River were a well-ordered band overall and set the scene for the night very nicely.  Before coming on stage, Bombay Bicycle Club engineered a slick introduction to ‘Shuffle’ into the between-band filler music before appearing playing the extremely catchy electronic single. Immediately the crowd got moving, embracing the energetic performance. Despite this early rousing though, the band’s newest content was far less well received overall. This led to an awkward dynamic, wherein the performers half-heartedly failed to reach an unreceptive audience of long-time fans desperate for old material. Things kicked off again when ‘Leave It’ came on though, with the band playing on lyrical repetition to nudge the atmosphere back on track.

The biggest roars came when ‘Evening/Morning’ was introduced. As if woken up by it, lead singer Jack Steadman suddenly came to life with an unexpected vigour, something that was both surprising and welcoming to see. Their rendition of ‘Cancel on Me’ likewise produced a stellar performance, with a beautiful build-up met with synonymous approval from around the Guildhall.

Accompanied by Steadman on the piano and Lucy Rose providing tender backing vocals, ‘Still’ was a well chosen, mellow and refined encore that highlighted the band’s diverse musical capabilities. This was immediately followed up with ‘What If’, with Dry the River returning to the stage for the final encore to help round off an impressive evening of music from a band that I’m happy to report uncharacteristically exceeded expectations.

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