sun 19/01/2020

Bombay Bicycle Club, The Forum, London | reviews, news & interviews

Bombay Bicycle Club, The Forum, London

Bombay Bicycle Club, The Forum, London

Scion of the MacColl musical dynasty and band play it loud, and curry favour

Their critical acclaim, being voted Best New Band at the NME Awards earlier this year, for instance, is not entirely a bolt from the blue. Particularly for anyone who believes that talent is genetic. Guitarist Jamie MacColl is the son of versatile musician's musician Neill MacColl, nephew of the late, great Kirsty and grandson of pre-eminent folk revivalist Ewan. On BBC's album it is MacColl's surging, dynamic riffs that constantly propel the band. And despite MacColl being boyishly unassuming in appearance, onstage those riffs become positively explosive. The mood at the Forum was set by the opening number, "Evening/Morning" which went from gentle to floor-shaking in seconds, aided by Ed Nash on rolling bass and Suren de Saram smashing the drums into oblivion.

If there was a fault to the gig it was that the sheer volume made floppy-fringed vocalist Jake Steadman's romance-flecked lyrics hard to decipher beneath the din. Not that this bothered the moshing devotees down the front, who knew every couplet by heart. This was a gig about the beat, rather than the subtleties of Steadman's stanzas. Rhythms that get under the skin were the key, as the tempo shifted between conventional pure pop and more choppy, angular alt-rock. On "Magnet" the discordant thud felt like Devo's atonal template in a head-on collision with the chart-friendly chorus of Klaxons' "Golden Skans". Like much of BBC's output, "Magnet" is not the most original of songs, but no court in the land would dare argue that it isn't gloriously infectious.

There was less scope for light and shade in NW5 than on the album, recorded not far from home in Ray Davies' Konk Studios. One of their gentler compositions, "Dust on the Ground" turned into much more of a new-rave thrash. And while there were occasional flashes of Vampire Weekend-style Afrobeat, there was not much sign of the Appalachian music that Steadman has said he is a fan of. And apart from a brief snatch of less frenetic solo guitar during the encore, there was little hint of what to expect from the group's acoustic album, currently in the pipeline.

Despite rattling through their set with plenty of verve, Bombay Bicycle Club still do not quite seem fully formed, wearing their eclectic influences, from Broken Social Scene to Pavement, on their skimpy sleeves. Their fans, who have faithfully followed them via underage gigs and the festival circuit, absolutely adore them at the moment. But whether this means the band is going to give them an album that has true lasting value remains to be seen. In the meantime, though, the musicians and their equally youthful audience are clearly all having a great time.

BBC, however, may live to regret naming themselves after an Indian takeaway chain. Stardom may bring plenty of welcome rewards, but it may also bring forth a thousand puns from a plethora of punning sub-editors. These korma chameleons that your naans may not like could be currying favour on your iPod in the future.

Watch the video for "Evening/Morning" on YouTube

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