© Andy Scheffler - Bombay Bicycle Club @ Vogue Theatre, Vancouver – May 3rd 2024

Live Review: Bombay Bicycle Club @ The Vogue Theatre, Vancouver – May 5th 2024

Written by Krysten Maier

Bombay Bicycle Club had their big day in Vancouver last Friday for a happy reunion with our country that they seem to hold close to their hearts. “You never let us down, Canada. You’ve always been there for us, and we can’t thank you enough!” frontman Jack Steadman gushed on the night. “This was the first show on the tour to sell out. We can always count on you.” 

The British band is touring again for the first time in a while, in support of their new album My Big Day, which by all accounts would rank as perhaps their best. Ever incorporating elements from a musical smorgasbord of folk, electronic, and world music, this new offering leans dynamically into a more psychedelic angle. With the band’s penchant for repetitive, mantra-like bridges and often Eastern influences lending a spiritual bent, the route feels like a natural development. The album also expresses togetherness, exploring iconic collaborations with the likes of the Queen of Funk herself, Chaka Khan. I was hooked from the first listen. I couldn’t wait to see the new tracks and long lingering favourites be brought to life at the Vogue Theatre.

Opener Gengahr brought us a strong dose of bright shimmering pop rock. All round corners and glossy falsetto, the band treated us to some bouncing picks from their catalogue. Their tight live set featured artful transitions that saw past guitar lines lingering, holding down the fort while the bandmates flipped switches and made tweaks until a fresh drum beat kicked in anew.

The lead guitarist boasted an enviable pedal, switching from unique synth sounds to static blur as he scrubbed out swirling riffs, his guitar swinging down near the knees of his lanky frame. Shuffling drum beats ushered us down a rushing road, and I got utterly lost in the tunnel of their jam, building from a happy day trip to a shredding descent into chaos. 

The groovy London band’s first time in Vancouver, they made sure to cover the bases of some of their more listened-to tracks, like “In the Moment” and “Icarus”. I personally preferred their more jammy numbers than the called-out singles. The jolly, well-rounded set flip-flopped from light to heavy, busting out more funky and original sounds than I could keep track of, which made them a perfect match for Bombay Bicycle Club.

The main act wasted no time diving into the new album after the core member filed onto the stage with two guest musicians in tow to the ringing of “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, all good children go to heaven.” Playing the first two album tracks back-to-back, BBC brought pleasing psych vibes from the clean-cut crew. A modulator on Steadman’s mic gave his distinct vocals a trippy effect and he cultivated a strong presence in the standout tune “I Want to Be Your Only Pet”. His chilling whispered bridge was injected with emotion, boiling over in the hard-hitting refrain, creating an enrapturing wall of sound.

A brilliant light show blended seamlessly with the upbeat music, mesmerizing colour theory playing against a bespoke backdrop of multi-coloured fabric streamers, with MY BIG DAY spelled out in gold balloon letters. It was the perfect pastiche of a birthday party in maximalist style, and Steadman dedicated the show to anyone celebrating a momentous occasion and he held a celebratory sentiment throughout the show, full of joy and emotion. The excellent crowd only added to the good vibes, singing along to songs old and new with total abandon.

I almost couldn’t decide whether to sing along or simply stare mouth agape at the plate-spinning style performance the gang took on in their complex and mathy compositions. In the favourite “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep”, Olive’s spine-tingling vocals looped as Jack and Jamie MacColl’s two countering guitar riffs bounced off each other to a dizzying effect. Percussionist Suren de Saram went nuts on the kit during “Luna ” as recorded tabla beats circulated in the background. The band stripped back to the original quartet for hard rocking “Evening/Morning”, the four shadowy figures obscured by strobing white light, incorporating an exaggerated freeze frame before one last kick at the end of the song. 

As well as they mesh on their own, the band tackled their newly minted duets with equal ease, presenting their ace in the hole in the form of vocalist Olive Jones on their tour. She took on Chaka’s solo from “Tekken 2” with a soaring grace and continued to impress and delight the crowd with her sumptuous harmonies and interludes throughout the night. She even busted out the saxophone to temper the thrillingly fast-fingered guitar flourishes of “Diving”. She could also be seen shaking a tambourine next to guest multi-instrumentalist Nathan Cox, who was pulling out the stops too.

In the melee of complex and counter-intuitive rhythms and gadgets galore to make up their inimitable sound, Jack took a quiet moment for an acoustic rendition of “What If’ and “Flaws”. Coming off the high of “Eat, Sleep, Wake”, it took a moment for the amped crowd to settle, but the room soon hushed to take in the soothing vocal lines. “You guys are great,” he decreed at the end. “When we need you to be loud, you’re loud. When we need quiet, you’re quiet.” He was brimming with joy, going on to pound a sole cymbal in a percussion explosion, and pulling out their greatest hits to the adoring fans.

Recently changing up their encore picks, Jack shared that he felt strongly about playing “Turn on the World”, which he believes to be their most optimistic song yet, written for his infant son. He wanted to leave us on a positive note, and that is exactly what the heartfelt tune did, followed inevitably by mega fun “Shuffle”. In the exceptionally buoyant and bright performance, I was only let down by BBC’s omission of the title track from the new album, which I would have loved to hear. “Fantasneeze” would have been nice too. But more than anything, this speaks to the profundity of this stalwart band’s repertoire, which I am delighted to say has expanded wonderfully in their latest efforts.

Set List

Just a Little More Time
I Want to Be Your Only Pet
Dust on the Ground
Tekken 2
Lights Out, Words Gone
How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep
Everything Else Has Gone Wrong
Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing but You)
What If
So Long, See You Tomorrow
Carry Me
Always Like This

Turn the World On

Photos © @andy-scheffler

  1. Good picks, looks like a great set list — watched these guys do a livestreamed set from their rehearsal space early in the pandemic and even that was a good performance. Thanks for the review!

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