Bombay Bicycle Club have pretty much every stage at Reading since their first appearance in 2007, becoming synonymous with the event in the process. The one time in recent years that they weren’t on the bill in 2010, they turned up anyway, and played a gig in the campsite after Arcade Fire’s headline set.
This evening, they finally make the Main Stage, and while things might not get off to the most auspicious start, as sound problems mean while the band sound great, no-one can hear Jack Steadman sing the first verse of ‘How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep’.
The volume is swiftly turned up in time for the twists and turns of ‘Your Eyes’, before the band return to their first album for a brooding, Interpol-like take on ‘Dust On The Ground’ before returning to the dancefloor for a slinky ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’, as Lucy Rose, back in the fold for this weekend having played a solo set in the Festival Republic Tent, takes centre stage to croon along with Jack.
The diverse nature of the band’s three albums to date is highlighted with a shuffling, alt-country ‘Ivy And Gold’, complete with co-ordination defying showing off from drummer Suren. ‘We must be the only band on this stage today with a banjo!’ laughs Jack.
While they’re clearly celebrating making it up here today – “We’ve been coming here since we were 16, now look where we are!” Jack beams at one point – there’s room for a nod to the future, with blissed-out new song ‘Carry Me’ pushing the electronic influences heard on ‘A Different Kind Of Fix’ and in Steadman’s solo work a bit further, with some clapping hip-hop beats and no less than two bass guitars deployed.
A driving ‘Evening/Morning’, and they’re into the home straight, with the biggest cheers predictably reserved for the two big singles ‘Shuffle’, and always-guaranteed festival smash ‘Always Like This’, though a furious ‘What If’ runs them close.
As they leave, even Jack admits playing yet again next year would be “pushing it”, but they’re a Reading & Leeds band, and they’ll certainly be back before long. If that new album goes to plan, Melvin Benn’s “future headliners” claim may yet come true.
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