Bombay Bicycle Club // Live Review

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How much can you actually write on a gig that was as close to perfect as this writer has seen in all her years?

In today’s installment of ‘I Got To See My Favourite Band Play An Iconic Venue’s Last Show With Two Of My Best Friends And It Was A Dream Come True’, we’re about to find out.

It was sweaty like no other mosh pit I’ve experienced, I’m sporting a highly attractive bruise on my groin, I met some boys in the crowd who were ELEVEN (and weren’t the only ones), there was a guy next to me who spent the entire set screaming out the name of a song he wanted them to play – spoiler alert: it was their last track – but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

As a final show for Bombay Bicycle Club’s So Long, See You Tomorrow era and a very final show for the somewhat rundown but ever-charming Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre, old, young and new come together so wonderfully it’s almost too good to be true. The spoof video, set two decades in the future after the gig, almost rings true after a night that won’t easily be forgotten for band or audience.

Sure, the young Crouch End band aren’t perhaps the most obvious choice to headline the famed venue’s final farewell, but they do it more than justice – it’s intelligent, diverse…and kind of magical. Support acts Sivu and Peace, both looking forward to a huge 2014, play truly excellent sets – but the impatience in Earl’s Court’s standing area, full for the final time, is palpable. The surge to the front (and the cause of the aforementioned groin bruise) as the lights dim for the final time is proof that this crowd is here for one reason only – and they’re determined, I’ll give them that.

While Elbow’s Guy Garvey’s brilliant futuristic description (watch the spoof video) of the gig “To say religious experience would understate it,” is perhaps a bit optimistic, what follows really is special for Bombay diehards and vague supporters alike. The generously lengthy set takes us through, in no apparent order, all of Bombay Bicycle Club’s incarnations – their reinvention in every album finally coming together for a celebration of music in general, and a testament to how unbelievably diverse the four-piece are.

We jump from the Bollywood anthem of ‘Feel’ to the overtly joyous ‘Luna’, through the emotionally charged and surprisingly sexy ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’ to the innocently catchy indie riffs of ‘Always Like This’ and into ‘Ivy and Gold’ – a folky cut from the band’s acoustic record Flaws – with surprising fluidity. Armed with long-time keyboard player Louis Bhose, guest brass band and the three ladies who have sung with the group over the past five years – Lucy Rose, Rae Morris and Liz Lawrence, the show is more like a carnival filled with pyrotechnics, confetti and artistic projections. Oh – and then Dave Gilmour turns up.

Yeah, Dave Gilmour. The quite famous one from Pink Floyd. No doubt the children (I mean, practically infants) in the crowd don’t quite see the significance in this, but it raises the night to a whole new level of magic.

“This man gave me my first guitar and was also one of the first people to play in this venue,” says guitarist and old family friend Jamie MacColl (of the Kirsty/Ewan MacColl clan). So we get a rendition of ‘Wish You Were Here’ from someone who’s played the hallowed halls of Earl’s Court 27 times, apparently, and then he joins forces with Bombay Bicycle Club and a steel lap guitar to bash out another track from that acoustic album, ‘Rinse Me Down’. It’s spine-tingling stuff, and the only moment where the crowd hushes (whether out of respect or confused amazement, it’s hard to tell) and stares in awe.

There’s plenty more after Gilmour, of course – and it’s good stuff, although there’s a feeling that it sort of peaked halfway through unless Freddie Mercury decides to make a ghostly appearance. And then all too soon, it’s over. As they’ve been doing at shows and festivals worldwide for a year now, ‘Carry Me’ closes Bombay’s set with the happy-go-lucky thing they’ve always had going on, but five years later there’s an air of confidence and maturity behind it.

A final burst of fire and confetti, along with the whole audience’s persistent chants of “YOU CARRY, YOU CARRY, YOU CARRY, YOU CARRY ME” is enough to leave a stupid grin on your face despite the Tube overcrowding and unbelievably long cloakroom line. It’s a fitting – if unconventional – farewell to vibrant and beautiful Earl’s Court, and a memorable send-off for the boys of Bombay, who’ll be taking 2015 pretty quietly after the speed of this year.

Just don’t go too far away – the withdrawals have already kicked in.

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Buy: Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow