Journeys to gigs are usually not straightforward, in fact, the more complicated the journey, the better the gig. Yesterday’s experience added to this generalisation.

Moving up to Bandra, through the exotically monikered Mahalaxmi, the imperial Grant Road and the slightly silly Dadar on the early evening train, then on into the district itself. Taxi drivers wouldn’t take my money, tuk-tuk drivers less so. An occurrence in India as rare as an England cricketer at home on a raging turner. So I stumbled on through Bandra, with its famed nightlife and contemporary bars as well hidden among the rubble, mess and poverty as subtlety in a Little Britain sketch until I reached my destination; Bonobo Bandra.
One of my favourite bands from the UK, the aptly named Bombay Bicycle Club were due to end their Indian Tour on Sunday. Owing to the expiration of controversial politician Bal Thackeray on Saturday evening, this gig was cancelled as (most of) a city mourned. With the rest of the band flying home to fulfil prior engagements, lead singer Jack Steadman stoically stayed behind to headline a hastily convened acoustic session that took place on Tuesday night.

Bonobo Bandra was well primed for its brush with greatness, owing to the numbers queuing for entry and service, to pay tribute to one of the current greats of Britain’s indie scene. Or it could be like this every night. Overpriced drinks served by overfamiliar bar staff in an over flouncy setting.The consumer base consisting of Mumbai’s beautiful (and rich) people; the spoilt city kids, Shantaram tragics and Gap Yahs. I feared it was probably like this every night and headed to the adjoining room to where the music was.

The support act were five local lads, Something Relevant. They were good. Drawing on inspiration from Sly & The Family Stone, Curtis Mayfield and Marouane Fellaini, these youngsters breezed through their act and were cheered on by family and friends throughout. They reappeared to a chirpy ovation and finished the evening alongside Jack to take part in a rapturously received Always Like This.
Steadman himself was superb. Strumming on manfully despite the lack of support, the bass section in the end was formed of the audiences’ loudest clappers, he gave an assured performance and took them through the band’s growing back catalogue as well as taking on a couple of specially selected Blues standards for himself. Listening to him it’s clear that he owes not just Bombay Bicycle Club’s name to his love of India, Leaving Blues, it transpires was written in tribute to his first visit here. It’s also clear he revels in the kind of über-geek indie minstrel persona that so turns people away from this genre. Each of the songs were performed with the rough n’ ready touch associated with an acoustic set, yet with the confidence of a musician at the very top of his game.

The journey home was less frenetic. Indeed, almost alone among the carriages, peering out across the Mumbai nightscape, I thought of the beautiful ending to the album, Flaws and Swansea. I was among the trains, pawing into the wild, wild night…

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