If there is any new band that has quite literally smashed their way through to prominence this year, then it has to be Bastille, I would say.
Quite relentless in their gigging and touring throughout the last 18 months has brought them on the most meteoric journey that has elevated the indie pop quartet into becoming one Britain’s newest national pop treasures, but not only that, they’ve also spilled over to slay the Americans also.
Much anticipation has been buzzing around my own digs for the last 6 months & armed with a couple of the hottest tickets in town, I set out accompanied by one of my sons to embrace the whole of the Bastille experience first hand last week, as they brought the “Bad Blood Returns Tour” to Cambridge.
Staged in the city’s Corn Exchange venue as a standing only gig, and determined that my son’s first ever live concert experience, would be just that, we arrived early to secure our places as near to the action as was possible. Tightened into an 8 deep scrum from the stage barriers, we found ourselves encircled by teenage ladies with faces daubed in lipsticked Bastille triangular logo’s. To be honest I wasn’t quite expecting such a volume of barely teeny young female following to be present at an indie pop gig, but they were there and we were with them!
Preceding in the evening’s warm up came sets from Bipolar Sunshine and To Kill A King, The former that has frequented my inbox increasingly over the last 6 months pulled in a convincingly engaging opener that presented itself in a much more enjoyable manner than I had been expecting to find myself impacted with.
To Kill A King on the other hand whom I knew practically nothing about, until nearing the conclusion of their set when they called out Bastille to the stage to accompany on their folk pop offering “Choices” and was informed by my son that Bastille front man Dan Smith and To Kill A King front man Ralph Pellymounter have been buddies since their University days. Well yes, there was a raucous reception when the headliners made their impromptu appearance, other than that I can’t say I was completely struck down hugely with the folky aura of Mumford and Sons meets arena rock though, it just wasn’t for me.
Then that sound happened, that sound that I would yearn to hear weekly when I myself was a teenager. Oh yes, as Bastille enter the stage THE TWIN PEAKS THEME, and straight into bracing title track “Bad Blood”.
In succession the majority of the album is covered, from the poignantly sweeping ballads “Overjoyed” and “Daniel In The Den” to the anthemic slew of hit singles brought through in “Laura Palmer” and “Things We Lost In The Fire”.
Pausing only briefly to engage with his enraptured audience Dan Smith comes across as a humble frontman whose a touch bashful still with the amount of adulation that the band are in receipt of. The interludes are brief but kind of really quite endearing in the overall emitted feeling of no grandeur or popstarry ego, just someone who sees themselves as enjoying what they are doing in a grounded at one with us manner.
Introduced into a mid-way section of the set come a clutch of 3 new tracks “Campus”, “Blame” and “The Draw” continued in an overall shadowy atmosphere that ran through their “Bad Blood” debut, there is a distinct turn to a heavier indie rock sound that is bubbling within the ranks and most prevalent on “The Draw”. Of the three it was the jaunty affliction of “Campus” that I was most in approval of.
The concert highlight though, goes to “Flaws” which came through as we entered the finale stages. I guess you’d probably think that “Laura Palmer” or “Pompeii” would be my personal favourite but actually it’s the quirky and jaunty nature of “Flaws” that railroads me everytime I hear it. This was brought to fangirl heights in me as Dan disappeared from the stage mid song & re-appeared on the balcony above, peering down on us all. Dan was amongst us and it felt so great and appropriate on “Flaws”.
With our excitement levels now off the radar there was only one place now left to go, to the party encore’s of newly unveiled but fan favourite mix-mashed single of Corona’s “Rhythm Of The Night” and Snap!’s “Rhythm Is A Dancer” in the sparkly dark disco re-imaging “Of The Night” and of course closing with the opulent power anthem “Pompeii”.
Bastille are a band that truly give their all to a performance, there is no need for lasers and costly special FX, all the opluence lies within their music and it feels right that it does. It didn’t stop the audience pogo-ing their hearts out for the entire set, my son included, or one or two bodies crowd surfing above our heads. I didn’t part-take of either pogo-ing or crowd-surfing but I had a rad time enough singing my heart out, so much so that I awoke next morning without a voice. Although, it turns out not entirely due to my exuberant singing, but actually a virulent bout of flu combined with laryngitis, which is why this review is brought to you a few days after the event.
The only thing that would have made this evening even more amazing for us would of course been if Swiss Lips had been covering our date as part of their leg of this tour support.
Even now after we have been given a glimpse of the future sound of Bastille, there is still an interim chapter to enjoy before it impacts us with its driving rock edge, that I’m a bit unsure about.
The aforementioned dark disco re-imagined “Of The Night” and deluxe extended Bad Blood collection of commercially unreleased material to form “All This Blood Bad”.