The former Bombay Bicycle Club frontman is a master of reinvention, re-emerged with a shaven head, and armed with a 12 piece jazz band – Steadman with a new lease of life puts on the performance of his career.
Having seen Bombay Bicycle Club countless times as a teenager, I was always wary of how Steadman acted on stage. Despite the fact they continuously put on a stellar performance, the frontman often looked awkward and uneasy, as if he felt out of place. However, tonight was the complete opposite. Comfortable, confident and most notably having fun – Steadman looked utterly at home when performing, playfully feeding off the chemistry of the other musicians.
It is no surprise that Steadman’s musical journey has resulted in the creation of Mr Jukes. Always working on his solo music, a side project under his own name, that mixed slick production with sample-centric hooks, often taken from world music.
By Bombay’s fourth album, So Long See You Tomorrow, the line between Steadman’s solo work and the band had started to blur. Incorporating samples found on his travels, producing the album himself, and recording in their own studio. Still, you could hear that through the cracks on the Bombay record, something bigger was trying to break through.
Being the first date of the UK and European Tour, you could fell the energy and anticipation in the group. With a trio of backing singers – Davide Shorty standing in for Charles Bradley (RIP) – sounding practically indistinguishable in the epic Grant Green sampled ‘Grant Green’. While Frida Touray gives Lauryn Hill a run for her money, with a severely confident and swanky take on Doo-Woop (That Thing) – one of the highlights of the set and an infectious groove for the audience.
A sense of musical maturity had developed in Steadman over the 12 years since Bombay first formed. And from looking around at the crowd, there was no doubt in my mind the half the audience had also made the same journey following carefully at every step. Nodding his head contagiously, grinning from ear to ear, conducting the stage from the centre playing the bass – Steadman had found a way to express himself that was true himself.
As I leave Concorde 2 to go home, I am left feeling uplifted and inspired – no doubt mirroring Steadman’s exact mood, as he thanks the crowd for being so receptive. Walking along the seafront, fans on every corner of the street are dancing and singing in unison ‘I need you…baby!’. By far one of the best shows I have ever seen in Brighton.
Bravo Mr Steadman, Bravo.