Bombay Bicycle Club – Brighton Dome – 18th March 2014

 Only very occasionally does there come a gig where all the ingredients for a perfect storm seem to coalesce. BBC are riding high, very high… number one with their new album, and well deserved too. It’s heartening to see, especially in this day and age, a band with strong artistic credentials who can make it to number one.
And so, the beautiful people of Brighton and beyond descended upon the beautiful architecture, setting and wondrous history of the Dome, to see a once-in-a-year type gig. Could they deliver?
This is no flash in the pan band – they are practically veterans, having been around since 2005 with four albums under their belt. Crucially, they remain relatively young, all in the mid-20s. While, say a Mumford gig, would attract a large smattering of 30 to 40 +, tonight it is largely confined to the age group of the band itself give or take a few years.
They seem to have a new found confidence on stage too – especially in frontman, Jack Steadman, perhaps one of the least unlikely pop stars in recent memory. But one who obviously is as passionate about his music as any… There is an ordinary demeanour about him that fans can readily relate to, but he can thrash around on stage when the moment seems right…
The heart-warming charms of the album ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ – in title as in song – were given a thorough airing tonight… It is, after all, their most successful to date, and which carried with it the burden of heavy expectation after a three year gap from their previous album. Its success has enabled them to discard some of the most well known songs from their back catalogue, but this didn’t seem to overly phase the audience. In fact, it is Bombay’s continued desire to experiment, to not allow themselves to get stuck in a musical rut or be comfortable within tight stylistic parameters, that is another of the keys to their success.
Steadman’s voice, while distinct, isn’t always naturally suited for the big stage, and some of the songs are a tad underwhelming. But tonight, it doesn’t matter, much of the material adapted for a live setting, the band increased in size, with up to eight on stage at times including the down-to-earth Rae Morris, a guest vocalist on the album as well as support act for the tour. Amazingly, there were large pockets of whirlpool moshing going amidst the almost universally bopping crowd. After all, this was a symbolic and significant celebration of a band, the audience simply willing them on to the dizzying heights they currently enjoy. As my mother would say about The Beatles: ‘we grew up with them, they were one of us’, so many in the audience tonight will no doubt harbour similar sentiments in years to come.
Jeff Hemmings