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Review: Bombay Bicycle Club @ Bristol Beacon

Celebrating their 2023 album 'My Big Day', as well as teasing their newest EP ‘Fantasies’ (with a lovely shot of the Suspension Bridge on the cover), Bombay Bicycle Club hosted an energetic, vibrant night of live music.

By Susie Long, Music Subeditor

As I imagine is the case for a lot of people, I listened to a lot of Bombay Bicycle Club at school, so it was quite an exciting, nostalgic concept for me to see them years later! Having seen their incredible set at the Bristol Beacon, I would definitely say that my obsession with the band has been rekindled.

Supported by the Isle-of-Wight-based rock band Coach Party, and with warm-up tunes from DJ Chux, this didn’t just feel like a gig, it was an event. My friend and I remarked that it might possibly have been the most quintessentially British thing we had ever seen: people of all ages gathered in an enormous theatre, aggressively finger-gunning to ‘Freed from Desire’. As much as I found this experience kind of surreal (definitely didn’t feel like I’d had enough pints), it undeniably created a lovely atmosphere in the venue. With no awkward waiting between acts, and with a DJ keeping the atmosphere alive, the audience was definitely energised and ready for Bombay Bicycle Club.

When thinking of how to describe this gig, one word sticks with me: fun. As simple as it may sound, everything about Bombay Bicycle Club’s show was entertaining, lively and joyful, and, when there were quiet or introspective moments, they were tactfully handled in a way that everyone still left the show feeling good. From lead singer Jack Steadman shooting confetti cannons at the audience to dancing brass sections, Bombay Bicycle Club clearly knows how to have a good time with their crowds, and it was obvious the whole time that they were having fun too. 

As well as returning their well-loved classic songs like “Always Like This”, “Carry Me” and “Lights Out, Words Gone” - a great reminder of how many excellent songs Bombay Bicycle Club have in their arsenal - the band celebrated a lot of their newer tracks too. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t familiar with a lot of these more recent songs, but they balanced freshness with the classic BBC sound in a really clever way. With collaborations on this album such as “Diving” with Holly Humberstone and “Tekken 2” with Chaka Khan, post-hiatus Bombay Bicycle Club seems to have perfected harnessing an innovative, current sound and taking risks with their music, whilst still remaining authentic to themselves as a band.

Whilst (sadly!) we didn’t get to hear “Tekken 2” with Chaka Khan, backing singer Olive Jones more than did it justice. Featuring in a number of songs in the set, another notable one being “Flaws”, played acoustically with Steadman, Jones took Bombay Bicycle Club to another level. With soulful vocals and the most beautiful tone, I would definitely recommend checking out her solo stuff as well as her work with BBC. In fact, the whole band was incredibly impressive. It was great to see percussionists suddenly playing brass, and singers on percussion - I lost track of the number of instruments that came on and off that stage! 

All in all, Bombay Bicycle Club delivered a great show. Dancing, fun, great tunes and an amazing venue: you couldn’t really ask for much more. The only downside was, as the funk tunes starting playing in the venue on our way out, that Lionel Ritchie’s “All Night Long” somewhat eclipsed the end of the show!

Featured Image: Tom Oxley

Have you seen Bombay Bicycle Club live?