Tonight’s support act, Lianne La Havas combines bluesy finger-picking with soulful vocals. This works to great effect on ‘Forget’, a song about a doomed relationship. Her short set has a swinging finish, ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’, sung with an eastern twinge to the wailing vocals, is a song that gets the crowd fizzing like the lager that fuels them.
Bombay Bicycle Club open with ‘How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep’, revealed to the audience from behind a curtain of theatrical décor. Ed Nash’s shuddering bass kicks in on “Your Eyes” – an almost Muse-like (or at least mature Jared Followill) intro.
Older songs such as ‘Evening/Morning’ and ‘Cancel On Me’ sit comfortably with tunes from ‘A Different Kind of Fix’, including ‘Leave It’ and ‘Lights Out/Words Gone’. The band’s Indie-matic Wall of Sound™ slows down mid-set for tracks from ‘Flaws’, the Crouch Enders’ second album.
‘Rinse Me Down’ has Jack Steadman’s trademark strong and raspy vocal, immediately followed by the Bluegrass ‘Ivy & Gold’, a song which can only make you wonder about the 55 songs higher in the charts the week it was released as a single.
Lucy Rose, BBC’s long-time collaborator, plays a prominent vocal role throughout the show, most notably on ‘Still’, an eerie duet played on the Grand Piano, with euphoric keys emerging from the backdrop of the starry stage props. The mixing of old and new, quiet and loud tracks continues with the hushed acoustic ‘Beggars’ and ‘Always Like This’ – the band’s first sing-along anthem and debut album single.
The biggest reception comes for BBC in their two-song encore, led by ‘Shuffle’, with its piano loop and dance-hall jive that feels at home in its Brighton surroundings: a pop masterstroke straight out of a Graham Green novel.
Steadman remarks during a rare moment of crowd interaction that the bustling audience is behaving like they’re at a festival, rather than a cold Monday evening at the South Coast. Throughout their performance, the ‘pit swishes and waves like the sea outside.
‘What If’ rounds off a night when any possible doubts about BBC’s ability to cope with bigger venues were extinguished, and made Melvin Benn’s recent claim about them being future Reading and Leeds headliners now seem entirely reasonable.