Bombay Bicycle Club frontman Jack Steadman jerks around the stage like Chris Martin. Which is a bit weird. It is good for the band, though, for without his eccentricity, a four-piece who’s debut album is a glorious indy-blues stomp would look distinctly out of their depth in the live arena.
You see. Steadman’s three bandmates looked like Gareth Gates must have done the night a pregnant Jordan fluttered her eye lids at him: awkward, petrified, yet thanking God for the opportunity.
Yet they managed to play incredibly well, and with the charismatic Steadman lapping up the attention from a frenzied adolescent crowd of public school indy wannabes, this gig at Islington’s The Garage was a roaring success.
You could argue that great songs make a great gig, and to some degree this was the case. ‘Dust on the Ground’ and ‘Always Like This’ got justifiable cheers, but the likes of ‘Lamplight’ showed a maturity well beyond their years.
Yet Steadman also proved that the band can strut. His stadium rock antics of soaking up his sweat with a towel, which he then threw to the audience, his goading of the crowd surfers, his cocky swagger – it was all in danger of looking like a spoof or a tainted imitation of a rock group.
But he just about pulled it off. Mainly because, looking like he does, it was sort of endearing. And, to be fair to him, his voice justifies the confidence.
Of course, performing with in front of adoring and infatuated old school friends (of which 90% of the audience seemed to be) is all very well, but gaining the respect of a weary and cynical indy crowd elsewhere may prove more taxing. However, Steadman’s Devendra Banhart vocal and the melodic folksy guitar work of Jamie MacColl, coupled with some great songs, should ensure as enthusiastic a response from a crowd who didn’t do double science with them.
Words: Jon Severs