I get to the Wonder Ballroom (really more of a small club than a ballroom) over half an hour early with my friend Bernadette. This is her first concert. We are in Portland so of course it is pouring rain. About fifteen minutes before the doors open, we learn that the opening act, Royal Canoe, canceled and that someone singing for Bombay will be the opening act instead.
Because of Royal Canoe’s cancellation, the show starts much later than anticipated. As the lights dim and a woman, looking a little tentative, comes out on stage. She wears a guitar and speaks with a British accent. She says that she’s only played this set in small pubs and that was over a year ago. She did not expect to be the opening act. I don’t expect much from her, but she is incredible. She sings six songs, all originals. About halfway through her set we realize we don’t know who she is; someone in the audience asks. Her name is Liz Lawrence, and you can listen to her music here.
After the break, Bombay Bicycle Club takes the stage. They flash animations of their album logo on a screen: three intersecting green circles. They launch into the first song, “Overdone,” from their new album So Long, See You Tomorrow. I can see Liz Lawrence at the back of the stage, as the back up singer. For the first five songs, most people just listen, despite the action stage. Orange strobe lights illuminate Jack Steadman, lead singer, as he dances with guitar or piano. Bassist, Ed Nash, whips his hair around so much that rarely can I see his face.
It’s not until they play “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep” halfway through the set that the audience finally claps, dances and jumps. There is one boy towards the front who can’t stop jumping, even through the slower songs.
Towards the end of the set, Steadman sits down and plays the piano for “Eyes Off You,” and “Whenever, Whenever.” Things get really quiet to the point that I can hear a pin drop. Either no one knows the words or they just wants to hear Steadman sing. Then, with their best known song, “Shuffle” the jumping, clapping and dancing begin again.
If you’ve got their album, know that their live vocals are even better. This concert proved that!
You can purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here for Bombay Bicycle Club.
You can purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here for Liz Lawrence.
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