After 16 months of no live reviews of proper gigs, it was good to be back at the O2 Academy in Bristol to see the indie-rock legends that are Bombay Bicycle Club play their second warm up show before their headline set at Latitude Festival tonight (25th July).
Firstly (and hopefully the only c-word mention of the night), O2 Academy Bristol have what I think are very solid covid procedures in place. Everyone has to show proof of full vaccination, negative test from within 24hrs, or natural immunity from a positive test within 180 days. Other venues – take note! I did also notice a lot of people were keeping their masks on inside.
Once in, we were shortly introduced to the first act of the night, local musician Tamu Massif. Tamu, who played as a one man band, using a mix of guitar, pedals, loops and synths, played us a selection of new and old songs. Although I had never heard of Tamu before last night, I must say his skills and musical ability really took me by surprise. He is an incredible one man act, his voice matched his playing style amazingly. I think if he had a full band set up, it would be simply unbelievable. Sadly the set was ruined by so many people talking. Seriously, after 16 months and people are still doing this shit?
One to watch out for, and if you ever get the chance to see Tamu live, take it!
Another short break before the main band came on, and what an entrance they made. All of that pent up energy from the last 16 months of no gigs was released at once, and no one – band or crowd – could keep still. I was even singing along in the photo pit!
Now, with some bands, they come on stage full of energy, but by three songs in they are dying on their feet (looking at you, Neck Deep at Download…). Bombay were not one of these. That energy was kept up throughout the whole set. This was also one of the loudest crowds I think I’ve ever heard!
Throughout their mammoth 18 song set, we were graced by a truly amazing cover of Lose You To Love Me, originally by Selena Gomez, a false start for I Can Hardly Speak (I don’t know if intentional or not?) and even a brass section for some songs – at one point there were 9 people on stage!
I’ve always been told that if the crowd is singing along to a guitar solo, you know you’ve made it, and last night was certainly one of those nights. At one point, frontman Jack Steadman remarked “it’s been one of those shows with a stupid smile on my face the whole time”. Same.
While looking through my notes it is difficult to put into words how good last night was! From my place up on the balcony I witnessed some epic dad dancing, and looking down into the pit below every single person there was having a great time.
The main set was brought to a close by Carry Me, from the bands 2014 album So Long, See You Tomorrow. With a bit of encouragement from the band, crowd members started ‘carrying’ each other (on their shoulders), before the time-honoured tradition of walk off walk back on again.
If you’ve ever read some of my other reviews you know I hate this part, so I’ll keep it short with one word: why?
With lots of chants of “one more song” and “Bombay Bicycle Club” (not the easiest, or clearest chant), the band eventually came back to the stage for the proper big ender – Always Like This.
And what an ending it was! The band still kept that energy going, and the crowd kept on top of their fiery dance moves. With more horn solos, good vibes and what is simply written in my notes as “bass solo, fuck yea!”, the night was drawn to a close and sadly we had to get to wherever we were off to next.
As always, a massive thanks goes out to all the staff, crew, security, bar staff, promoters and everyone else who works behind the scenes, to Bombay Bicycle Club and Tamu Massif for being amazing performers, and of course to the crowd for making it an excellent first show back!
Words by Ted Stargatt for TrueStyleMusic
All Photos copyright Ted Stargatt/TrueStyleMusic. Use without permission explicitly prohibited.