Bombay Bicycle Club open up Reading 2023 with a special set that reaffirms their indie legend status

As the start to a weekend goes, it sets the bar high for what makes Reading special.

Words: Jamie Muir.
Photos: Patrick Gunning.

Opening up Reading Festival is quite a responsibility. It’s lucky then that there may be no sturdier shoulders than Bombay Bicycle Club – who take to the BBC Radio 1 Dance Stage (yep, you read the right – Ed) for a special set that puts front and centre what a beloved band they remain. Nine years on from the last time they graced the Reading stage, the time away has seen them return with a renewed focus. Indie legends? On today’s evidence, their next chapter may be their most complete yet.

Immediately surging through an opening wave of ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)’ and ‘Shuffle’, it feels the perfect setting for a band whose credentials stand apart from most. Wistful and gripping in equal measure, it’s a swooning cocktail that demonstrates the broad spectrum of Bombay’s journey to date. ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’ sparks singalong masses, whilst the title track from incoming new album ‘My Big Day’ revels in a sun-soaked Reading crowd. Recalling how when they first played the festival, they performed to an empty tent because the gates hadn’t even opened yet – it gives today a homecoming feel, for a band who cut their teeth working up the bill into the institution they are today. ‘Evening / Morning’, one such track they played on that day, punches with electric kicks, ‘Carry Me’ fizzes with effortless ease, whilst the dizzying warmth of ‘Luna’ overflows into pure euphoria. By the time a closing ‘Always Like This’ brings their bite-sized secret set to a close, Reading sits firmly in the palm of their hands.

As the start to a weekend goes, it sets the bar high for what makes Reading special – and in turn, just what makes Bombay Bicycle Club so special too. Inventive and sounding like nobody else, they’re indie legends and so much more.

Bombay Bicycle Club played:

Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)
My Big Day
Lights Out, Words Gone
Evening / Morning
Carry Me
Always Like This