Live Review

Benicassim 2012 (Day Two)

Bombay Bicycle Club have never seemed more comfortable.

The revelers at Benicassim spend the day nursing sun-burn and enjoying the ice cold campsite showers. Personally, we opt to hire out a pedalo, and cause mayhem on the beach, with panicked lifeguards blowing whistles as we obstruct sailing boats, terrify surrounding swimmers out of their wits and nearly dash the good ship DIY against the rocks. Blessedly we befriend a kind young chap from the navy who chivalrously pedals us to safety, and before we know it we’re back on shore and ready to enjoy another night of music, with main stage Marravillas being the port of call.

After gorging ourselves on chorizo (not to mention dreaded Don Simon wine from a carton) we head to the festival ground. The sun has just stopped beating down intensely, instead creating a kind of hazy and sangria hued sunset. It’s a breathtaking backdrop for Miles Kane, who wins Benicassim’s heart with his brand of loveable soul-filled lad-rock. ‘Inhaler’, unsurprisingly, gets very rowdy, along with the soaring, euphoric melodies of ‘Rearrange’. It is ‘Come Closer’, though, that provides the set’s compulsory magic moment – as the set closes, the massive crowd sings the ‘ooh’s and ‘ahh’s in perfect unison, not content to let Kane leave the stage. Mile Kane doesn’t want to leave either, standing in complete awe alone on the stage, dwarfed by the enormity of both Maravillas, and his audience’s appreciation. Clamping a hand over his astonished open mouth, Kane is clearly moved by the impact of his set – but we’re hardly surprised it went down such a storm. Renditions of ‘oooh ahhh’ become commonplace over the remainder of the festival, magnifying round the bar and campsite. It’s a testament to the wonderfully modest Miles Kane’s lasting impact.

A different kind of legend takes to the stage next in the shape of the mumbling, gravelly voiced, Bob Dylan. Feelings are mixed at first, with predictions of “lots of mumbling that doesn’t really make much sense” and rumours rife that there won’t be any big screen shots. “He’s the bloke in the big hat” a neighboring man helpfully informs us – and indeed, it’s pretty hard to pick out Bob Dylan even from our relatively close spot. The lack of close-ups is a great shame and somewhat hinders the feelings of connection to start with, but once the set gets into full swing, it’s very enjoyable. The audience is a distinct mix of dedicated fans identifiable by their one day wristbands, and young whippersnappers like myself who still need an education in the music of the beat generation and the meteoric influence of Dylan’s poetic blues. Make You Feel My Love’ proves particularly mesmerising, and a bit of a tearjerker. The end unites hardcore fans and original skeptics with swaying arms.

After all that nostalgia it’s a speedy return to current music, and as Orlando Weeks unleashes his oh-so-vulnerable, quivering vocals across a now dark Benicassim, The Maccabees are clearly at the very peak of their game. “We’re The Maccabees, thank you for coming to see us” mumbles Weeks softy. It’s heartwarming to believe that he really thinks we didn’t know, and stumbled across the set by chance – in actual fact The Maccabees are one of the most hotly anticipated acts on the bill. What sounds gorgeous enough on record is utterly beautiful and spellbinding live, with the faultless harmonies of ‘Pelican’ seeming to breathe. The whole catalogue of The Maccabees seems to come to life in fact, filled with an energy that can only come from the best part of 45,000 people drinking up every note.

We’ve heard chatter about some pretty hefty production for the next set, and as expected, all manner of LED boards and some pretty powerful strobe lights start to get set up. You’d expect such showiness from the likes of, say, David Guetta, but because this is a Bombay Bicycle Club set there’s an even stronger buzz around the stage. Surrounded by huge props modeled on the heads from the Different Kind Of Fix artwork silhouetted against a smoky blue haze, Jack Steadman and co. look enthralled, and their extra attention to detail is a fantastic investment. The band’s first ever release ‘Evening/Morning’ is still as fresh and exciting as the first time we heard it, yet Bombay Bicycle Club have come an awful long way from the fresh-faced sixth-formers that they once were. The playful melodies of ‘Always Like This’ and ‘Shuffle’ still ring true as ever, but now the band seem like, dare we say it, true rock stars. “I’m not home” croons Steadman in his irresistibly distinctive vocals, but wrapping up a huge night of music effortlessly, Bombay Bicycle Club have never seemed more comfortable.

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