Great Hall, Cardiff University Students Union, Fri 24 Jan
Bombay Bicycle Club seem to be playing out a film of their own lives tonight. As the lights dim in Cardiff’s Great Hall, you can almost picture a screen going black, and the words “four years later” flashing up the moment the quartet walk on to their latest single, Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You).
Let’s rewind the tape a little bit – in 2016, the band called it quits via an “indefinite hiatus”, parting ways in order to pursue personal projects, masters degrees and the like. A four-year break would typically translate to an eternity for any band, but perhaps not such an insurmountable time away for Bombay Bicycle Club; tonight, on a set that spans four albums, they’re as tight as they have ever sounded, flicking between numbers from their jangly, riff-happy early days and new synth-laden material with ease.
Jack Steadman leads a celebration of Bombay Bicycle Club’s frenetic, mathy origins, needling guitar lines beef up debut cuts Dust On The Ground and Evening/Morning, a brass trio ups the energy even further by eking the rhythmic shifts of 2014 single Feel. Spring-loaded with hooks, the fidgety, looping piano breaks and delicate optimism of Shuffle work as a gentle reminder that Bombay Bicycle Club have produced more idiosyncratic singles in the past, particularly when tracks from their latest album Everything Else Has Gone Wrong often pivot away from these twiddly pop sensibilities. Favouring chopped vocals and simple harmonies, newbies Is It Real and Good Day often fall where they should bounce, but tonight’s sold-out crowd still lap them up regardless.
When finale staple Always Like This is hammered out, the pace is re-set; a euphoria of a different kind is delivered via a deafening singalong and Steadman and his bandmates quickly give way to laughter throughout the outro. It may have taken a hiatus to realise how cherished they truly are, but Bombay Bicycle Club are back, and they are having a damn good time.
words SOPHIE WILLIAMS photos HANNAH TOTTLE