Review: Bombay Bicycle Club is just better live

By Joko Magalong

Posted at Jul 25 2014 03:58 PM | Updated as of Jul 25 2014 11:58 PM

The Bombay Bicycle Club during their concert at the World Trade Center in Pasay. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra for

MANILA -- The excitement was electric last Wednesday as fans of the Bombay Bicycle Club flocked to the World Trade Center for the first-ever show of the English rock band in the Philippines.

Local band She’s Only Sixteen was the front act of the show, taking the stage with confidence and skill that seemed to belie their young ages. With music that had notable influences from the Arctic Monkeys and the Strokes, their set had catchy tunes like “Dying to Meet You,” and was a perfect foil to get the crowd going.

Aptly starting the show with “Overtone,” also the opening track of their current album, “So Long, See You Tomorrow”, one quickly realizes why the Bombay Bicycle Club is much touted for their live shows.

Everything was just better live like songs “It’s Alright Now,” “Your Eyes” and “Open House.” The latter is an old song with a jaunty guitar riff that shows the band's early inclinations as well as catchy loops, definitely present in songs like “Always Like This” or “Come To,” both performed in the show. The band rocked out in a lot of songs such as “Your Eyes.”

A personal favorite, “Lights Out, Words Gone,” “Shuffle” and tracks with Bollywood flair “Luna” and “Feel” were danced to madly. And in typical Filipino concert-going fashion, the crowd sang in tune in all the appropriate parts, even perfectly singing the last line of “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep” without missing a beat.

The Bombay Bicycle Club during their concert at the World Trade Center in Pasay. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra for

One of the highlights of the show was the performance of “Evening/Morning.” The song started with that unmistakable drum beat from Suren de Saram and the guitars of James MacColl, but the clincher was that every time that phenomenal bass riff was played by Ed Nash, the lights dimmed and the spotlight was on him; it made my heart stop. Live, it was an unforgettable spectacle and the album version doesn’t even come close.

Another surprise was the live version of “Home By Now,” performed like it was one of those classic ballads that you want to dance to in your wedding -- it was sweet, sad, and happy at the same time. The backing vocals of Liz Lawrence were the perfect foil to Bombay Bicycle Club’s unique way of “wearing your heart on your sleeve.”

The encore performance rocked out with “What If” and “Carry Me.” Ending with “Carry Me” was very good as it had all the best parts of a Bombay Bicycle Club song -- it starts syncopated then turns relaxing, and then it suddenly rocks out, and then we repeat.

The Bombay Bicycle Club during their concert at the World Trade Center in Pasay. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra for

“We’ve never been to a country where we were greeted with such love,” said vocalist, Jack Steadman.

And why not? Social media was full of #BBCLiveInManila tweets and posts of fans “reeling” and being “not yet over” the show. Fans were given a show that was technically flawless -- a seemingly perfect sound system, the delightful phenakistoscope (spinning disk) artwork flashing onto the screen, and heart-stopping light shows.

And then we talk about the music, there is really something about Bombay Bicycle Club’s sound. They have music that you can stare into space to, rock out to, trip out to, dance all your blues away to, or cry to, and that’s just in one song. How can one quickly recover from 18?

In a prior interview, Steadman said he hoped that their show will be worth the wait for Filipino fans.

It was all that, and more.

What a show.