I didn’t expect much from the Great Hall as a venue. Having been there only twice previously, once to sit an exam and the other to give blood (both wonderful experiences), I can’t say that I could imagine my favourite band performing in the same place. However, the venue was transformed as soon as Rae Morris took to the stage, and the sound was surprisingly good even though it was being spat out of a sound system that looked like it had been thrown up by the 1970s.
One question I would love to ask Bombay Bicycle Club: where exactly do they find all these talented songstresses to collaborate with? You might recognise Rae Morris from Bombay track, Luna; she’s the female in it with the delightful voice. When she first sat down at the piano with her band, I couldn’t quite tell if I was at a gig, or a Hair Convention. The afro of her keyboardist was majestic, and Rae’s frizzy mop almost stole the show. Yet her vocals managed to knock her barnet off of the top spot, especially during her last song which was wonderfully catchy and sounded like it was just begging to be the backing track on a quirky TV ad. If I had to compare Rae’s unique sound with anyone, I’d have to say that she sounds like Marina & The Diamonds (if Marina was actually any good - think Obsessions and not that Shampain crap). Add a dash of Welsh singer Cerys Matthews and you’ve got Rae.
I’m very pleased that Rae Morris declared Exeter as her favourite spot of the tour so far, as hopefully this means she’ll return for a second visit after the release of her upcoming album - which I’m now very excited for, by the way.
After a tantalisingly long wait for Bombay Bicycle Club to appear, the wondrous first notes of new album opener, Overdone, blared out alongside the visuals of a new dawn in their background animation (which almost deserved its own show). Immediately you could tell that this gig was going to be unbelievably fun, especially when a trio of brass instruments appeared, causing the crowd to break out into dance. I think Bombay managed to play every single song from their new release, So Long, See You Tomorrow. Particular highlights from the album would have to be Whenever, Wherever (which Jack very politely dedicated to Shakira), and Home By Now, in which talented backing vocalist Liz Lawrence took centre-stage along with Steadman.
Bombay Bicycle Club aren’t the type of band to ignore their golden oldies though. The crowd were also treated to the irrestistibly catchy Always Like This, classic single Evening/Morning, and even a little bit of Lamplight. The latter was fantastic, especially at the end where Jack, Jamie and Ed threw themselves around the stage as they made as much noise as possible, with Suren helping them out on drums. What If was another highlight, played as the encore opener.
The best thing about this gig has to be how much fun everyone seemed to be having. From the support act, to the crowd, to the backing singers, to the band themselves, everyone seemed to be having an absolute blast. As Jack Steadman said himself, the happiness from the crowd was simply contagious, and it made for some unmissable performances. Thank you, Bombay Bicycle Club, for proving that great live music can belong in Exeter.