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A Magazine for Sheffield
Live / stage review

My Big Day: Bombay Bicycle Club at The Octagon

New songs and fan favourites are all ticked off, as BBC move through the gears.

8 February 2024 at
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Steve Hunting.

"Sheffield means so much to us," explains Bombay Bicycle Club frontman Jack Steadman. "After we took our extended hiatus, our first comeback gig was at The Leadmill, so Sheffield has always been special to us." Cue rapturous adoration from those who beat snow-related transport issues to get to the gig.

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With acclaimed new LP My Big Day cementing BBC's place as indie-pop national treasures, it was great to welcome them back for a gig flipped to The Octagon due to the RAAC-related unsuitability of the Academy (and let's hope that particular issue is resolved sooner rather than later – Sheffield needs all the venues it can get).

In their early days – a gig I saw at Islington Town Hall springs to mind – there used to be a pretty volatile mosh-pit to several songs from inaugural LP I Had the Blues But Shook Them Loose that always seemed to somewhat disarm the band. For 2024, it's a relaxed, almost festival-style singalong crowd as BBC rolled out a setlist heavy on tracks from My Big Day (eight are played), a new album that provides further evidence of the growing maturity and songwriting confidence of the band, especially when augmented as tonight by a three-piece horn section and brilliant supporting vocals from Olive Jones.

With the new songs including partnerships with the likes of Damon Albarn, Nilüfer Yanya, the budding talent of Holly Humberstone and even Chaka Khan for crying out loud, there's a definite sense of musical expansion that's heartening to see and hear, and you get the sense that BBC are in a place now where new challenges are not just taken on, they're embraced. Kicking off with ‘Just a Little More Time’, ‘Feel’ and ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’ gets the mix of old and new just right, with the new album’s title track and ‘Tekken 2’ jump-starting the crowd to great effect.

The hits? Sure, no problem, as ‘Luna’, ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)’ and ‘Carry Me’ remind us all of how many bangers there are in the BBC locker, while long in the tooth diehards are richly rewarded with classics ‘Evening/Morning’ and the sublimely acoustic ‘Flaws’, before the brilliant wig-out of new tracks ‘Meditate’ and "Rural Radio Predicts the Rapture’ take us home in a frenzy of guitars, percussion and brass.

It's always nice to see a band genuinely enjoying themselves, and with BBC now in their seventeenth year they've clearly found a working practice and expansionist joy in recording and playing live that hopefully will continue long into the future.

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