5/6/14 – Royale

In 2006, three scrawny 16-year-olds formed a band, taking on the moniker of a chain of Indian restaurants. Nearly a decade later, Bombay Bicycle Club has shed the traces of their timid teenage years — the Brits who rocked the Royale this month were, indeed, rock stars.

There were certainly moments when the awkwardness slipped through — the band’s dance moves were still rather limited. But years of gigging must have taught Bombay Bicycle Club something, because a set of six circular screens (reminiscent of their most recent album artwork) projected illustrations that did all their dancing for them. The band could have stopped at black and white sketches of themselves moving to the music. Instead, they took the crowd for a river canoe ride on “Whenever, Wherever” and down playground slides on “Always Like This.” With “Feel,” lead singer Jack Steadman slung his guitar on his back and drummed out rhythms to get the crowd dancing as hypnotizing orange cobras flashed on screen and a green-faced monster (detailed to its single gold tooth) grinned down at the crowd. The colorful kaleidoscope of drawings left the audience transfixed, but Bombay Bicycle club tastefully withheld from overusing the visuals — like when they killed all but a single spotlight for the slower “Eyes Off You.”

Three years ago, the band played an acoustic set for a small crowd of shoppers at AllSaints Spitalfields on Newbury Street. Most customers were busy browsing the store’s sale offerings, not realizing that they were being treated to a talented group from overseas. This time around, there was no question that Boston knew who Bombay Bicycle was — there wasn’t even a need for song introductions. Still, the band hasn’t forgotten the journey that got them here. Instead of basking in their fame, they brought back opener Royal Canoe to play “So Long, See You Tomorrow” before all leaving the stage together, closing the set with the same walking silhouette that graced the screens at the start of the show.

The encore — a mix of the old and new — mirrored the rest of the show, which although heavy on new material, was peppered with popular tracks like “Your Eyes,” “Cancel On Me,” and “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep?” As bare black and white sketches of the band’s members moved on screen to their final song, one thing was clear: Bombay Bicycle Club are no longer the boys they used to be.

All Grown Up: Bombay Bicycle Club
PROS
  • stunning visuals meshed well with music
  • mix of old and new meant familiar tracks for all fans
  • new material matched energy and vibe of the venue
Cons
  • still yearning for a little of the old acoustic sound
9.1Overall Score

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