Bombay Bicycle Club, Lucy Rose
Harry Milburn 22/07/2010
Thank God-(for he seems the appropriate one to thank)- that
Islington's Union Chapel is as much a music venue as it is a place of worship. Because whilst 'Flaws' is certainly no gospel record, on tonight's evidence it is nevertheless beautifully suited to being heard in a church.
Beautifully suited because its Victorian walls allowed bespectacled frontman Steadman's voice to boom and echo eerily- and pews filled with people were silenced into a stunned reverence as a result. It meant too that lyrics such as 'Jewel''s 'I'm just some mortal, you are so divine' (not to mention the repeated grimacing delivery of 'my God') became even more poignant against a backdrop of stained glass.
And it meant, perhaps most importantly, that people were actually able to properly listen. Of course, choosing to play in a church ensured that the congregation here were never going to spend their time jostling for a good position, moshing mindlessly or trying stubbornly to hold their ground. But even though all had received hymn sheet-style handouts with printed lyrics on them at the door, nobody seemed to be here to sing along either. Rather, the audience were content just to sit and watch; and as a result it quickly became evident that this was not like seeing Bombay Bicycle Club - at least not as we've known them - at all.
At times the folk outfit present here would more appropriately be
described as 'The Jack Steadman Show'. His band mates departed the stage- Liam Gallagher style- whenever they weren't required; and, even when they were, seemed to sit with their faces glued bored for most of the evening. By the time Steadman launched himself into a haunting cover of Wainwright Loudon's 'Motel Blues' (singing 'come up to my motel room, sleep with me!' in the house of God?! Why, that's positively blasphemous!) it seemed fair to begin to speculate as to why this was never a solo venture in the first place.
But once choir and band took to the stage for an encore (an acoustic adaptation of 'Always Like This' and the excellent Joanna Newsom cover 'Swansea') it was clear that the best moments indeed require the whole ensemble to be present. By that time, of course, the audience were already won over; and even the strictest atheist of their folk credentials had long since been converted.