St. George’s Church, 21 July 2010
Doors opened at 7pm; being still at home at this point was risky. Home is far from St. George’s, and with no real concept of geography meant at this point to get to the far-flung venue was a charge straight through Kemp Town. Upon arrival it was in fact a church, not a church hall or an ironic pub. It was a small village style church, awash with bunting, candle lights, the crucifix, a vicarage and all the while, ever-so-slightly out of place, 600 or so Bombay Bicycle Club worshippers. It was with an intense sense of religious irony that the evening proceeded, in that a small hoard of young people who have probably never visited church before, had turned up, but not to worship god. Not only did they turn up, but they went of their own accord and not under the usual duress of their parents. The setting was mystical, close and homely; unsurprising for a church. It was an apt selection of venue, given the nu-folk nature of the Bicycle Club’s latest material and their apparent ability to switch from big rocking guitar music to chilling on church stools with their clean and composed acoustic riffs.
Nonetheless, there was an underlying feeling of scepticism going into this, given that their debut was a stunningly well-executed collection of large-scale guitar songs. Yet so quickly they retreated to more of a soft-core folk indie approach for the second record. But they were never going to rock out in a church. The closest the whole night ever got to slight madness was lead singer Jack Steadman proclaiming with an understated dignity, “I wrote this song in Ibiza, but it’s not what you think.”
The gig itself was very entertaining; their fresh material achieved its full potential in the magical, romantic, traditional and dignified church setting. It didn’t grab the soul or pump your libido like a classic rock concert, but it was captivating and beautiful in places. Bicycle Club impressed with their level of musical competence and confidence. Regardless, people probably turned up just because of the debut album’s exploits (a point perhaps proven by the fact that the only significant moments of applause were reserved for “Always Like This” and “Evening / Morning”). An impressive display, never boring but alas, left this reporter feeling a little cheated and perhaps a bit too thirsty for more.
What did you think of the gig?
Adrian: 6/10 “Really awesome, but it lacked punch.”
Mike: 9/10 “It was more beautiful than punchy, but it was a church so that was fine.”
Kym: 10/10 “Jack Steadman’s folky singing voice just blows me away.”
Adam: 7/10 “I liked it, but I prefer their original material, the electric sound just has more spice.”
Words by James Rowland