Bombay Bicycle Club, Trophy Wife
Rhian Daly 05/12/2010
The soft, carpeted floor, free from shoe-stealing stickiness. The distinct smell of fried meat from the back of the room. The ruched velvet curtain that looms behind the stage. None of these things feel quite right, like they add up to a night of electric thrills from one of Britain's brightest young bands.
In a weekend where Bombay Bicycle Club have already completed their acoustic quota of shows, tonight's settings feel more suited to stools and maracas rather than the brooding indie collages that originally set the North Londoners' ship a-sailing.
Opening with 'Dust On The Ground', BBC seem intent on proving us wrong. Thrashing through songs from 2009's I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, they take the venue's cosy, plush interior and twist it through sharp guitar melodies and Jack Steadman's distinctive, frail vocals to leave it feeling more like an intimate, warm pub show rather than grandiose theatre space. They're helped along at every turn by fans punching the air to the beat, screaming the words back at them and singing along to every melody and riff.
Favourites like 'The Hill' and 'Magnet' come and go, each greeted with the same ecstatic cheers. “I've missed this,” Jack tells the crowd at one point. “I think I prefer playing electric shows.” And you can see why he might. For all the beauty and calm of acoustic gigs, there's no way they produce a reaction like this.
Even the handful of new songs showcased tonight are met with warmth and rapture; unusual considering this will be the first time the majority will have heard these songs. The first is typical Bombay with an added bite, Jack's normally restrained voice letting loose and almost growling at the chorus. The second features
Following the spine-tingling romp of 'Always Like This' and a massive, euphoric version of 'The Giantess', BBC leave the stage to regroup and, presumably, catch a breath after a frenetic set. Maybe that's why when they come back for a two song encore, they start with another new song - this time one that focuses heavily on Jack with his acoustic guitar, slow and sombre, whilst Suren de Saram sedately beats a drum machine and Ed Nash and Jamie MacColl huddle over synths at the back of the stage. It feels misguided as the normally unwavering attention of those assembled in front of them fails, pockets of chatter breaking out and suffocating the song. On to 'What If', a return to the standard set by the rest of the night - loud, brash and bringing the whole of the Troxy together as one fist-pumping mass.
Misjudged acoustic moment aside, if Bombay Bicycle Club carry on like this in 2011, they'll be finding themselves in much bigger, plusher venues than this one.