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Live Review: Bombay Bicycle Club with Lianne La Havas at London Alexandra Palace – 28th April 2012

By on Tuesday, 8th May 2012 at 2:00 pm

They grew up just down the road. They’ve had two, well, three popular records, and their meteoric rise doesn’t show any signs of stopping tonight as Bombay Bicycle Club top the bill at Alexandra Palace. The atmosphere’s as friendly as the music in Ally Pally as Lianne La Havas comes on stage. Her rising star flying over her homeland tonight as her reception is immense. Ever since her appearance on Jools Holland, the singer-songwriter’s endearingly personal EP ‘Lost and Found’ has been played to a wide array of fans. Starting on her own and being joined by a live band a few songs in, Havas’ sound is nowhere near as small as you might imagine and there’s scattered polite singalongs accompanying her.

Half an hour down the line, Steadman and company arrive on stage behind a curtain as Apache: Jump on it blends into the opening purr of ‘How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep’. As it kicks in, the curtain comes down and tonight really begins. There’s a slight timidity about the 10,000 strong crowd tonight but quickly the band’s simple light show and stage set up becomes their stomping ground as they get into the swing of things. At points this evening, front man Jack Steadman casts off his quaint demeanour and becomes a rocker in his own right as Bombay’s sound is deepened by Lucy Rose on vocals for much of the evening and an appearance from a brass band.

‘Flaws’ tracks ‘Rinse Me Down’ and ‘Ivy and Gold’ split the night’s feel up a bit, but rather than Mumford-ing up for live response, the band instead add an almost Friendly Fires-style jovial samba to it, extending the tracks with small percussive dance parties. It’s a nice touch,  (especially the man in a Kigu with a spare snare) but you can’t help but feel it’s slightly unnecessary.  ‘Evening/Morning’ comes as if you’ve turned over a side on the band’s life and arrived back at one of their finest tracks. Its bass line and singalong “I am ready to owe you anything” sounds as big as the band ever will and the crowd agree.

At times it feels like a festival. Thousands of people are crammed in, standing under one roof. There’s people dancing on shoulders (Lucy Rose on guitarist Jamie’s shoulders is just one of many) and their silhouettes cut as if by sunset. It’s even raining outside! The only thing reminding you that this isn’t the case is the regal surrounding. That, and the choices of ‘Beggars, Still’ and ‘A Different Kind of Fix’ bonus track ‘Beg’ filling time in the set. They don’t make a huge amount of sense in the live setting, but with only two proper albums, they have to find a way of filling such a demanding space, and each track in its own right is at least well written.

Of course, the set is back-loaded for added effect as ‘Always Like This’ gets an incredible response from front to back and ‘Emergency Contraception Blues’ sets up for the encore. It was always going to end one way and as ‘Shuffle’ kicks in, everyone does. The band’s biggest track to date inspires everyone to get moving as their last chance is approaching. It comes in the form of ‘What If’: it’s poignant and powerful and it shows that given a bit more material, Bombay can challenge the top. Humbled, they leave the stage. They’ve not been the best show you’ll see, but in time, they could be.


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