Bombay Bicycle Club rode their merry way into Oxford for the latest night of their biggest UK tour to date, in support of their recently released third album, A Different Of Fix.
Supporting were Dry The River, a five piece who spent most of their time attempting to prove why they aren’t a four piece. Unfortunately for them, their violinist was expertly hidden near the edge of the stage, and well obscured by a well-placed tall gent in front of me for a large amount of time. So imagine my surprise when two and a half tracks into their set, I suddenly spot this violinist, because I had certainly struggled to even notice his sound. Other than that, Dry The River sounded good, with a nice mix between the softer, quieter moments, and some huge eruptions of alt-rock noise. The voice of lead singer and guitarist Peter Liddle was particularly impressive; it’s a powerful voice that is full of feeling, like a slightly more rocking version of Guy Garvey.
After some Fat Man Scoop and House of Pain to get the crowd in the mood, an even more fractured cut of the already off-kilter piano loop from Shuffle burst out from the speakers, and the band took to the stage. Opening with Shuffle worked nicely as it showed the band had no fear in blasting through one of the most anticipated tracks of the night as they know they have a great depth of material to choose from. The band tore through a good chunk of new tracks from Fix, such as Your Eyes, Leave It and one of my favourites of the night, What You Want. Lucy Rose, who recorded vocals alongside lead singer’s Jack Steadman on Fix has also joined them on tour, which helps bring those tracks to life.
A couple of tracks from their second album, Flaws, got an airing too, and they got as big a reaction as anything else that was played. On the whole, the set list was designed to store up the big numbers from their first album to unleash towards the end. There were a few hugely pleasing aspects to this. Firstly, that it seems easy to forget just how many brilliant tracks there were from that first album; secondly that these tracks have grown, matured and really taken root within people’s consciousness. Thirdly, the band look like they still have such a great time playing these tracks; they are not a burden to bear as can be the case for some bands who have decided that some part of their older material was ‘shit’ (take a bow Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon, et al…..).
While it was enjoyable hearing the new tracks played live, the older tracks completely won the day. On Evening/Morning, the two bass bridges felt like they were erupting through the walls and the floor, twinned with the lights blitzing frenzied white colour, it was an awesome spectacle. An often overlooked or overplayed element, the lighting was great throughout. On the haunting Still, played as the first encore track, Steadman sat at the piano bathed in blue light while Lucy Rose sat at the opposite side of the stage, and was bathed in orange light while assisting Steadman with vocals during the chorus, then disappearing back into the darkness when falling silent. It was a nice touch as it created a feeling of solitude and coldness to match the lyrics of the verses, while the chorus’ felt warmer.
The most impressive thing from the show is how full the set list feels. There are no flat tyres here on this bicycle, this is a band with a mighty selection of tracks to choose from and who have a captivating live show.