For editor Mary's coverage of SXSW 2013, go here.
For TGTF team coverage of Liverpool Sound City 2013, go here.
For TGTF team coverage of the Great Escape 2013, go here.
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With the site in glorious condition, the adverse weather tormenting the rest of the UK holding off and hundreds of the world’s finest bands waiting to play, Reading 2012 kicked off in style. Deaf Havana, who TGTF spoke to later that day, opened up the iconic Main Stage just after midday and played a rousing set.
With only a six song set to work with, the band tore ferociously through their most popular songs, opening with the hook laden ‘I Will Try’, Deaf Havana later moved into single ‘I’m a Bore, Mostly’, a track that manages to be unrecognisably epic for the middle of the day. The band closed their brief set with ‘The Past Six Years,’ a track which played live is a pleasure to listen to in all it’s pop punk glory. (7/10)
With the Main Stage suitably warmed up by Deaf Havana, it’s time for an early spot by some prog rock heroes in the form of Coheed and Cambria. The crowd is, as expected, an eclectic mix of teenagers waiting for You Me at Six, so that they can touch Josh Franceschi’s lower thigh, mixed in with your seasoned music lovers, all ready for a set of truly epic proportions.
Coheed and Cambria, deliver exactly what you’d expect from a band whose lead singer has what can only described as a small mane around his neck. A set of noodling riffs and screaming guitar solos, coupled with classic C&C stalwarts ‘The Running Free’ and the exceedingly awesome ‘Welcome Home’. Coheed didn’t need to do anything except turn up and rock out with their cocks out and phallic references aside, they did and it was awesome. (9/10)
Next up, one of the breakthrough acts of the past twelve months appeared on the BBC Introducing Stage for an impromptu secret set. alt-J are the buzz band at the moment, everyone wants a piece of them and why not? With their interesting mix of indie melodies and dubby drops, they are accessible to a huge audience. Their set was short, but too much of a good thing can be bad, and with them playing the Festival Republic Stage later that day, the few songs they played was enough to get the sizable crowd they attracted appetite whetted suitably. (8/10)
Following up from a set attracting as much interest as alt-J did was never going to be a task bands would be jumping up and down about, but the understated acoustic driven rhythms of Park Bench Society were a joy to listen to and the perfect remedy to that middle of the day hangover you get at festivals when your legs start to seize up. The three, sixteen year old lads from Loughborough performed admirably and while the crowd didn’t seem to receive them well, it’s obvious that there’s some talent there. (6/10)
After a brief interlude to schmooze around the press tent and rock out with another TGTF favourite Lucy Rose, it was time to take in the pint-sized prodigy herself on the Festival Republic Stage. Now while Rose may be known for her work with Bombay Bicycle Club most prominently, her solo work is taking off rapidly and she’s already been described by Vogue Magazine as “one of indie music’s breakout stars for 2012”.
With an arsenal of striking acoustic numbers, Lucy Rose, is an artist who doesn’t need to even try, be in complete control of the crowd. She owns it from start to finish. Tracks ‘Scar’ and ‘Red Face’ are instantly recognizable as the Radio1 stalwarts they are going to become and with these grand tunes, she’s going to be on that A-List in no time at all. Oh, and add to that, she’s cute as a button… (9/10)
With just a sort break, Lucy Rose has to up sticks and amble off to the Main Stage where she performed with indie superstars Bombay Bicycle Club (pictured at top). Now, Bombay seemed to me to have been an odd choice to be third on the Main Stage. However, by 7 o’clock when they’d finished, I had no idea why I was thinking such mad thoughts. Steadman, Rose and co. made the Main Stage theirs, drawing from all of the bands albums and busting out crowd pleasers like the ever bouncy ‘Shuffle’. Steadman’s personality doesn’t seem like the kind of person who can own the Main Stage in such a way, but he surprised me and a higher billing can only await the band now. (8/10)
Following Bombay were Reading Festival favourites Paramore, next up on the Main Stage. Frontwoman Hayley Williams was in charge from square one and backed by the ever impressive Justin York on guitar the pop punk icons ploughed through a set with enough hooks to land Jaws.
To top it off, Williams brought a fan on stage to join in with the set. Now when I see an artist do that I always think, cheesy move. But for that person, it’s an experience of a lifetime, which will live with them for all their years and for gestures like that, I can only commend the fiery haired songstress for this action. While older songs like ‘Misery Business’ and ‘Pressure’ went down a storm, in my opinion it was newer song ‘Monster’ that really captured the essence of what Paramore at Reading Festival were about. A damn good time and some catchy as hell choruses. (8/10)
To close the day, it was a choice between an ageing legend in the form of Robert Smith from the Cure, or a rip roaring set from garage rockers The Subways.
So the choice was made. The Alternative Stage was my destination and a chaotic set filled with some massive tunes ensued. HEAVY AS HELL.
Day 1 closed with one hell of a bang, which the Subways handily delivered. (9/10)
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 6th August 2012 at 4:00 pm
A fan at the sold out Bombay Bicycle Club show at New York’s Webster Hall last week filmed some of the new material the band have been airing on their current North American tour. You can watch two of the songs, ‘It’s Alright Now’ and You Carry Me’, below. One thing that is clear from these videos? Lots of percussion on the new album. Enjoy.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 5th July 2012 at 6:00 pm
Just unveiled earlier today, here is Bombay Bicycle Club‘s new video for ‘Beg’, which the band promises has badass moves. You make the call. Watch the video below.
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.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 29th March 2012 at 4:00 pm
How did I miss this one? File this under “old but still good”. Bands in Transit brings you this acoustic-y performance by Bombay Bicycle Club of their summer 2011 hit ‘Shuffle’. Guess Jack Steadman and co. are on the brain after seeing them sell out 9:30 Club earlier this month… I can practically hear the squealing girls watching this now…
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 12th March 2012 at 2:00 pm
I’m not sure how the rest of 2012 will go, but so far this year I’ve already seen two bands making their Washington debuts. First was Slow Club at DC9 in February. And last Wednesday, it was Bombay Bicycle Club’s turn to make the rounds at 9:30 Club (I don’t count their appearance early in the day on the main stage at September 2011’s Virgin Free Fest at Merriweather Post Pavilion – yes, *that* Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective…) The show was sold out and while I had been warned I’d be surrounded by kids, all in all I was impressed by the local enthusiasm for the Londoners. The night hadn’t started out so well; for one, singer Jack Steadman had left the venue and gone for a walk, only to return and not be recognised by 9:30 staff. Fail.
For sure, it was going to be a very special evening, as Bombay Bicycle Club had brought Lucy Rose, aka the woman who had guested on vocals on both 2010’s ‘Flaws’ and 2011’s ‘A Different Kind of Fix’, along with them on this North American campaign. The question mark was Toronto band the Darcys. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work, but surprisingly, it did. Lucy was first; she came onstage looking very chill in jeans with a rip at the knee, a black jumper and a simple gold chain around her neck. The song ‘Night Bus’ appropriately brought a bit of London to Washington, and the punters assisted with ‘Refect’ (???) shortly after soon as she told us, “this song sounds bigger in my head than I can play it, so I’m going to need your help. (from **7-track EP). When she explained she and Bombay stopped by local rock radio station DC101 and didn’t make it to the White House, she made everyone laugh when she asked if it was worth seeing. The resounding answer, predictably, was no. The only evidence of nerves: she didn’t introduce herself until the end,before finishing with ‘Middle of the Bed’. Even though she was extremely soft spoken, she had plenty of (male) admirers, with lots of “I love you, Lucy!” being shouted out.
It was a bit of a shock to switch gears to the Darcys. Except for their clean-shaven lead guitarist, they could have been mistaken for Kings of Leon who’d been hiding out in a cave and this was their first surfacing and chance to rock out to every emotion. And whoever wrote their Wikipedia entry made a mistake, I think; they’re listed as being of the art rock genre, and when I think of art rock, I think of Roxy Music and Art Brut. No, these Canadians can be loud and can shred on command, yet in perfect harmony. I usually shun “jam bands” but I actually welcomed the drawn out outros of their songs. Wow. I was very pleasantly surprised as they sometimes sounded like psych rock but mostly just rock that’s balls to the wall, but held back enough to just skirt the boundary of chaos. Controlled, yet highly enjoyable chaos.
Amusedly, young girls in front of me with their bouncing hair chanted “BBC! BBC!” (how strange this sounded!), as strange disco and earlier dance music played on the PA in the intervening time between acts. Having had not witnessed Beatlemania firsthand, I can only guess that the reaction to Bombay taking the stage probably approximated the craziness. Good lord. I made the mistake of not putting in my right ear’s earplug until after the first couple gently guitar notes of ‘How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep’ and I think I almost lost my eardrum. The screaming was that loud. As I predicted, Lucy Rose returned to duet with Jack Steadman on ‘Leave It’ and one of my personal favourites, ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’. One song was arranged to allow the spotlight to be squarely on drummer Suren de Saram; everyone else on stage brought over various decidedly not usual percussion instruments (recycling bin, anyone?) for him to beat on in turn. Fantastic. Guitarist Jamie **last name dedicated a song from ‘Flaws’, played semi-acoustically on this night, to his grandmother who’s from Washington. Who knew?
Not sure if this is a regular part of a Bombay show, but it confirmed the craziness was not confined to the audience only. And what did the crowd do? Screamed their heads off. Generally I do not see boys at DC shows dancing, but fans of both sexes were cutting a rug to Bombay Bicycle Club’s’ patented brand of off kilter indie rock when they returned with an encore of ‘Shuffle’ and ‘What You Want’. We learned from Steadman that this was the largest show they’d played in America yet and that he thought we “were fucking amazing”. I thought the two young girls in front of me were going to faint from the excitement, half of the time yelling and attempting to grab at the band, the other half of the time looking like they were going to die because Jack Steadman was standing so close to them. I have to be honest, I’ve never been a massive fan of Bombay Bicycle Club (I liked their first album ‘I Had the Blues but I Shook Them Loose’ the best) and while I was aware they have a devoted following at home, I had no idea that Bombaymania existed in America. Need evidence? A girls’ bra, scrawled presumably with her name and mobile number, was thrown onstage and shortly after Steadman and MacColl shared a grin as if they could say to each other, “they love us. They really love us!” Bless. Could they follow in the footsteps of their 2011 North American tourmates Two Door Cinema Club? Quite possibly.
After the cut: Bombay Bicycle’s set list in DC.
Continue reading Live Review: Bombay Bicycle Club with Lucy Rose and the Darcys, 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 7th March 2012
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