I’ve got a backlog of concerts I’ve been meaning to get written up and posted, so I’m going to start the process this evening, and see how the rest of the week pans out. First on the list is British indie act Bombay Bicycle Club, who performed late last month at the Mayan Theatre in DTLA on Sept. 26th.
I was actually kinda surprised when this show was announced. They haven’t toured in over five years, the last SoCal shows being Coachella ’14, as well as the same week follow-up at the El Rey Theatre. I missed the former, but caught the latter. In fact, back then, I knew very little about this four-piece, other than the peculiar name, and a cursory listen of their critically lauded LP “So Long, See You Tomorrow.” It was actually the Coachella YouTube stream of their daytime performance that ultimately convinced me to head on over and check them out.
I’ve since grown to be quite a fan of their four albums of energetic guitar-fronted and world-fused synth-pop and blister-rock. They’re sound is kind of eccentric-eclectic for the indie scene. It’s overtly melodic and infectiously catchy. On the surface, it almost seems too accessible.
But thanks to some flavorful aural influences from their slow world travels, particularly Asia and Africa, all that clear-cut mainstreaming gets coated with a lively, optimistic saunter and shuffle that skirts the vintage paisley and the crafty pop, sometimes adding a dash of folk, or a sliver of bombastic grunge-hinted rock.
It’s all really good stuff, upbeat, unexpected, and euphoric. So it goes without saying that this was a highly anticipated, and totally welcome, return to the stage for Bombay Bicycle Club. Also, they’ve got a new album coming out early next year, already titled “Everything Else Has Gone Wrong” A brief tour, including this show, was announced, just for the heck of it, as well as a bit of a friendly reacquaintance, and the opportunity to introduce some new tunes.
One of those singles is already out, a crafty little groove titled “Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You).” It’s unmistakenly Bombay Bicycle Club, bubbly and off-kilter, with a breezy propulsive rhythm, full of life and more guitar favored stuff, albeit in a quirky sort of play. Here’s a snippet of it from their Mayan show, with the live band expanding to a six-piece.
Bombay Bicycle Club perform “Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You) at the Mayan Theatre on 09.26.19.
The rest of what follows is a greatest “hits” collage of prior tunes, pretty much everything you’d want to hear from Bombay Bicycle Club, if you’re a fan. I didn’t capture all of it. But I got all the good ones I wanted, most of which are off the 2014 album “So Long, See You Tomorrow.”
There’s six of those, including my favorite tune “Home By Now,” which I experienced for the first time at that aforementioned El Rey show. I’ve also got “It’s Alright Now” and “Overdone,” which have both been defining tracks for the band’s sound, filled with instrumental influences from India and Turkey, in particular.
Bombay Bicycle Club perform “Home By Now” at the Mayan Theatre on 09.26.19.
Bombay Bicycle Club perform “It’s Alright Now” at the Mayan Theatre on 09.26.19.
Bombay Bicycle Club perform “Overdone” at the Mayan Theatre on 09.26.19.
“Feel” and “Luna” continue the Asian fusion, while “Carry Me” brings a bit of raucous energy and discord to the melody, settling into one of the more upbeat rockin’ numbers from the album. It’s also the track they chose to close their set.
Bombay Bicycle Club perform “Luna” at the Mayan Theatre on 09.26.19.
Bombay Bicycle Club perform “Feel” at the Mayan Theatre on 09.26.19.
Bombay Bicycle Club perform “Carry Me” at the Mayan Theatre on 09.26.19.
Admittedly, since “So Long, See You Tomorrow” was my introduction, that’s where my interests tend to gravitate. But that’s not to say there wasn’t plenty of good stuff from before that era, particularly the breathy, breezy 2011 indie classic “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep,” which serves as a fitting blueprint for their current sound, and the opposing post-punk minded 2009 ditty “Evening / Morning.” Both are featured below.
Bombay Bicycle Club perform “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep” at the Mayan Theatre on 09.26.19.
Bombay Bicycle Club perform “Evening / Morning” at the Mayan Theatre on 09.26.19.
I think the thing that impresses me most about Bombay Bicycle Club’s live performance is how good these songs sound live. They’re faithful to the original studio recordings, yet full of impulsive energy and spontaneity, crisp and clean, but loud and spirited, and even a bit rockin’ and rollin’. And frontman Jack Steadman’s distinct voice is still as smooth and clear as ever in its quiet humanistic quiver and melodic waver.
I’m guessing that with a new album on its way, we’ll be seeing more of Bombay Bicycle Club in 2020. They played two additional new songs, which I unfortunately didn’t record, nor are they available just yet. They’re titled “Is it Real?” and “Everything Else Has Gone Wrong,” which is obviously the title track from the forthcoming LP. I don’t clearly recall the latter, but the former was great. That’s probably not the most helpful description. But that’s all I got for now.
Until their imminent return, here’s the setlist to help get reacquainted with Bombay Bicycle Club. Enjoy!