U.K. indie-pop outfit Bombay Bicycle Club stopped by the Northwest to play shows in both Portland and Seattle on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. The two dates were part of the band’s current tour in support of their Febuary 2014 release, So Long, See You Tomorrow.
The liveliness of the album carried over directly to the band’s performance on Tuesday at Portland’s Wonder Ballroom.
They hardly stopped to take a breath, as the energy remained near constant throughout the 18-song set. All 10 of the songs from the latest release were included in the set, in addition to four songs from their debut album, 2009’s I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose and another four from 2011’s A Different Kind Of Fix.
So Long, See You Tomorrow is Bombay Bicycle Club’s most upbeat and poppy album.
The song “Eyes Off You,” which is in the middle of the album, is really the only song out of the 10 tracks that is more subdued and delicate, and likewise served as one of the only quiet moments when performed during the show.
The latest album features a move into the world music genre, with more attention to dynamic percussion and electronic sounds. This added to the energy of the concert.
Two additional touring members assisted the original four-person lineup, filling out the live sound with auxiliary percussion and synthesizers.
Visual elements played a large role in the show. Particularly notable was a set of three circular screens that hosted a constant stream of projected animations.
The album artwork for So Long, See You Tomorrow features simplified male and female figures amidst a backdrop of the sun’s progression from day to night.
This visual inspired the live animations, which largely focused on sketched human figures performing a series of motions to match the songs.
Bombay Bicycle Club is currently exposing a more polished and poppy side to their music.
This is not at the expense of a continual pursuit of creativity and innovation, but for those who fell in love with the raw, straightforward rock of I Had The Blues But Shook Them Loose, the show could very well have seemed a bit too put together.
The additional touring members allowed the band to replicate the recorded versions of their songs near perfectly, with less of an allowance for live spontaneity.
When the extra members left the stage for the band’s performances of songs from their debut, there was a clear shift of energy as the original lineup set in to a place of familiarity.
It was a reflection of the comfortable foundation the band has built itself on.
However, the addition of touring members suggests that the band is still interested in pushing themselves to new places by working with new musicians.
Bombay Bicycle Club has not been afraid to experiment with multiple genres over the course of their four full-length albums, including indie rock, electronica, folk and now world music.
Tuesday’s show once again exposed a new side of the band.
Fans should not invest themselves too much in the musical style of any one of Bombay’s albums, but should expect to be taken somewhere new with each new release.
Bombay Bicycle Club appropriately capped off their set with the last track on So Long, See You Tomorrow.
The six-minute song takes its time to develop, with sparse instrumental additions for the first half, along with harmonized vocals.
At just over halfway through the song, an abrupt transition launches the song into an upbeat dance groove, which continues until the very end, when the song winds back down to the same chord loop from the intro.
The track ended the band’s set on a fun note, reflective of the show’s overall intention.
The band was cheered back onstage for an additional two songs, 2009’s driving “What If” and finally, “Carry Me,” an equally loud single off the new album.
Bombay Bicycle Club is not slowing down anytime soon, with dates set throughout the rest of the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan.
They will continue touring extensively through the end of September of this year.
This review was written based on the Portland show. The photos were taken during the Seattle show.