A part­ner­ship made for four

The ac­claimed in­die-pop band from London are back in their sad­dles af­ter four years apart

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - CRITICS’ CHOICE - TONY CLAY­TON-LEA

Any band that gets back to­gether af­ter a few years pur­su­ing those some­times dreaded “solo” projects will of­ten re­turn to face one of two things: a shrug of in­dif­fer­ence from a fan base that has long since moved on or a thou­sand wel­comes from a fan base that has spent the same few years wait­ing pa­tiently for the about-turn. In the case of London band Bom­bay Bi­cy­cle Club, it seems the fans just couldn’t stay away – the come­back tour has been greeted with a thumbs-up.

Of course, 15 years ago no one knew much about Bom­bay Bi­cy­cle Club – they were no more than a bunch of teenagers ea­ger to play gigs. There was a mod­icum of hered­i­tary mu­si­cal tal­ent in the mix, how­ever: Suren de Saram’s fa­ther is the ac­claimed Sri Lankan cel­list Ro­han de Saram; Jamie MacColl’s fa­ther is Neill MacColl (nephew of

Kirsty MacColl, and grand­son of Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl).

So there was al­ways go­ing to be a var­ied song­writ­ing aes­thetic, and so it proved from quite early on. The band’s 2007 de­but EP, The Boy I Used to Be, was re­leased a few months prior to news­pa­pers such as the London In­de­pen­dent run­ning fea­tures on them topped with head­lines such as “Too cool for school: the teen band who’ve got the mu­sic in­dus­try on the run”.

By sum­mer 2008 all four mem­bers had fin­ished se­condary school and set about tour­ing and per­form­ing at as many fes­ti­vals as would have them. They also set about record­ing their de­but al­bum, I Had the Blues but I Shook Them Loose, which was re­leased in sum­mer 2009 on Is­land Records. The al­bum quickly pitched them as a band to watch, with NME mu­sic writer Laura Snapes call­ing it “the most poignant an­thol­ogy of what it means to be young and rest­less in the city since fel­low Lon­don­ers Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm”.

What fol­lowed was the usual tra­jec­tory of a group that could do no wrong. Three fur­ther al­bums (2010’s Flaws, 2011’s A Dif­fer­ent Kind of Fix, 2014’s So Long, See You To­mor­row) ar­rived, each one con­firm­ing their sta­tus as a com­pelling out­fit that knew their way around in­die-gui­tar pop. Such eclec­ti­cism matched with shrewd mu­sic in­tel­li­gence could have con­tin­ued for a while longer had not the mem­bers an­nounced, four years ago, an in­def­i­nite hia­tus dur­ing which they would pur­sue var­i­ous solo and side projects.

As these ef­forts some­times go, the sum of the parts con­sti­tutes more value than the sep­a­rate el­e­ments, hence the fes­tiv­i­ties when BBC an­nounced their re­turn to the fray last year. It seems they have struck a chord, too, as their re­cently re­leased new al­bum, Ev­ery­thing Else has Gone Wrong, is once again pick­ing up the plau­dits.

Well, mostly – the same Laura Snapes, now writ­ing in the Guardian, de­scribed the new al­bum as “mu­sic for ad­verts that de­pict a hu­man life un­fold­ing in 45 sec­onds as a heart-warm­ing re­minder to buy a mid-range Euro­pean hatch­back.”

For all that, the wheels con­tinue to spin, as these sold-out shows con­firm.

Bom­bay Bi­cy­cle Club play Vicar Street, Dublin, Mon­day, Fe­bru­ary 10th and Tues­day, Fe­bru­ary 11th; also Wed­nes­day, Fe­bru­ary 12th, Ul­ster Hall, Belfast

elec­tron­ica, the pair have been in Dublin be­fore (they sup­ported Si­grid), but tonight is their night. Ex­pect songs that, noted The Ob­server’s Kitty Em­pire in her re­view of Ider’s de­but al­bum, Emo­tional Ed­u­ca­tion, last year, “ping con­fi­dently around the post-genre elec­tro-pop land­scape”. Spe­cial guest is the very fine Irish singer-song­writer Eve Belle, who will be per­form­ing new tracks (Smithereen­s, Homesick) and older tunes. TCL

Wed­nes­day 12

Float Down the Lif­fey

The Sugar Club, Dublin

As night­clubs con­tinue to shut their doors and dance­floor space be­comes even more lim­ited in Dublin, Float Down the Lif­fey is a mixed-medium show cel­e­brat­ing the re­mark­able mu­sic scene that per­se­veres. Sync­ing a di­a­logue-free film with live per­formed mu­sic, this event brought to you by Dab­ble­dooMu­sic aims to re­mind the au­di­ence just how di­verse the mu­sic com­mu­nity is. The score, writ­ten by Chris Rooney and Alex Bor­wick, will be per­formed by Rooney, Bor­wick and Bren­dan Do­herty on the night. LB

Elma Orkestra & Ryan Vail

But­ton Fac­tory, Dublin; Thurs 13, Róisín Dubh, Galway; Fri 14, Kino, Cork Rarely have two mu­si­cians worked to­gether as well as Ryan Vail and Eoin O’Cal­laghan. The for­mer has re­leased elec­tronic mu­sic that can sit side by side with the likes of Óla­fur Ar­nalds and Nils Frahm, while the lat­ter has re­leased song-based mu­sic un­der var­i­ous group guises. To­gether, how­ever, they have broad­ened the re­mit of what it means to make politi­cised mu­sic. “If you’re go­ing to write about some­thing,” Vail said re­cently to New Sounds magazine, “then write about some­thing.” The re­sult – re­leased last year – is Bor­ders, a crim­i­nally un­der­rated al­bum that blends polemic with po­etry, am­bi­ent mu­sic with melody. An au­dio-vis­ual treat for the senses? Step right up. TCL

Fionn Re­gan

Dolan’s, Limerick; also Thurs­day 13 & Fri­day 14, Whe­lan’s, Dublin; Satur­day 16, Con­nolly’s of Leap, Co Cork

“Folk has a new Pied Piper,” wrote the Guardian al­most 14 years ago when Co Wicklow mu­si­cian and song­writer Fionn Re­gan re­leased his de­but al­bum, The End of His­tory. What has hap­pened since is more down to Re­gan not want­ing to be the Pied Piper of any­thing rather than a de­cline in qual­ity. In­deed, if any­thing, Re­gan has de­vel­oped into one of the coun­try’s most as­sured song­writ­ers, with su­perb al­bums (2011’s 100 Acres of Sy­camore, 2017’s The Meet­ings of the Wa­ters, 2019’s Cala) de­liv­er­ing a trea­sure trove of del­i­cate, finely wo­ven songs. Spe­cial guest is Dubliner Aoife Nessa Frances, whose re­cent de­but al­bum, Land of No Junc­tion, is a beaut. Both Dublin shows are sold out. TCL

Thurs­day 13

Ex­plo­sions in the Sky

Vicar Street, Dublin

Texan post-rock band Ex­plo­sions in the Sky have spent the past 20 years pre­sent­ing what they term “cathar­tic mini-sym­phonies” to any­one that cares to lis­ten. The band’s in­stru­men­tals have been fea­tured on many movie and TV sound­tracks (The Kite Run­ner, Fri­day Night Lights), so we’re guess­ing you’ve heard the mu­sic even if you’re not fully aware of the mu­si­cians be­hind it. With no ob­vi­ous signs of a new al­bum (their most re­cent is 2016’s The Wilder­ness), we can ex­pect a trip through the back cat­a­logue. Spe­cial guest is US song­writer AA Wil­liams. TCL

Fri­day 14

Su­per­grass

Olympia Theatre, Dublin; also Satur­day 15, same venue; Mon­day 17, Ul­ster Hall, Belfast

There was al­ways some­thing re­as­sur­ingly com­fort­able about Su­per­grass, the Ox­ford group that got caught up in the Brit­pop scene, and who en­joyed chart suc­cess with al­bums such as I Should Coco (1995), In It for the Money (1997), and Su­per­grass (1999). Five years af­ter their Ra­mones-ref­er­enc­ing, pun­ningly ti­tled 2005 al­bum, Road to Rouen, how­ever, they split up, leav­ing singer Gaz Coombes to reap some solo re­ward with three ro­bust pop al­bums. What­ever griev­ances oc­curred in the past, how­ever, have been re­solved and, with a new com­pi­la­tion al­bum (The Strange Ones, 1994-2008) plug­ging the band’s tour dates, it seems Su­per­grass Phase 2 is well un­der way. The Dublin shows are sold out. TCL

H&G’S Valen­tine’s Gath­er­ing D-Light Stu­dios, Dublin

In a quest to help you find your soul con­nec­tion, H&G are bring­ing to­gether the el­e­ments of wa­ter, earth, air and fire via art in­stal­la­tions by Dodeca, mu­sic, food and glit­ter, so that the cos­mos can work their match­mak­ing magic. In other

PHO­TO­GRAPH: JACK

Jack Stead­man and Ed Nash of Bom­bay Bi­cy­cle Club at the Maho Ra­sop Fes­ti­val in Bangkok last Novem­ber. TAY­LOR/GETTY IM­AGES

Me­gan Mark­wick and Lily Somerville, aka Ider, Sound­house, Dublin , Tues­day

Palaye Royale, But­ton Fac­tory, Dublin, Sun­day Feb 16

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