Going to Glasto? Gig Review: Bastille (O2 Academy Bristol – Mar’13)

Review by Brigitte Nicolas –

to read our interview with Bastille frontman Dan Smith click here –

Dan Smith - Bastille

Dan Smith – Bastille

Ahead of this week’s Glastonbury Festival, we’re dipping into our archives to re-post reviews of acts playing. You can watch Bastille on the John Peel Stage at 7.40pm on Friday 28th June.  When tickets went on sale for Bastille the band already had EPs, popular singles and plenty of radio airplay. Yet the release their debut album ‘Bad Blood’, which hit number one in the chart, meant that two nights from the end of the tour, their Bristol date was always going to be a big gig. Bristolian support band, The Ramona Flowers opened the night with a friendly greeting to their home crowd, “Alright my lovers, this is the gig we have been looking forward too.” They were full of enthusiasm, starting with slower songs and building to the rockier tracks that set the night off to a good start. To Kill A King followed. Their popular folk rock sound was well received but it was when they started to introduce their song “Choices” that the big cheers began. The crowd knew what this meant. Bastille were welcomed out to join them and helped out with a bit of friendly harmonising. Bastille lived up to their reserved reputation, lead singer Dan kept turning away from the crowd and adjusting his hair, and drummer Woody had his hands in pockets uncomfortable away from his drum kit. Not that this bothered the fans in the slightest, in fact it seems one key ingredient to their success. When they returned for their own set with a fresh set of clothes they took to their places and were ready to perform. Dan sang out every word with passion and earnest, even bend double on songs like “Bad Blood”, but still struggled to connect to the crowd. He kept energy high, jumping to the music, one-handed drum banging and covering the stage. He managed to inform the audience that they have an EP and an album and that their new single will be “Laura Palma” before announcing “I’m awkward and weird so I am going to stop talking now.” The songs went up and down from the busy electronic “The Weight of Living” to the simpler melodious “Overjoyed” with Dan on keyboard and white lights in the background. Rythmic tracks like “These Streets” made you wish for just a little more room to dance than was on offer at the crowed venue. It’s something that makes you certain this band will translate amazingly to the larger festival crowds they will soon be seeing. They mixed up the instruments, Kyle moving from guitar to keyboard to a touch of percussion. The audience were clap, clap, clapping along with the catchy “Things We Lost in the Fire”. The fast and ever-changing beats punctuated the tuneful voices; and you’ve got to love a bit of live whistling from Will on “Poet”. The opening of Icarus was quiet with a recorded talking voice, then a flash of lights and a bang. Later three people were on one drum raising hands together beating down together. The band threw in a couple of covers. Their version of City High’s “What Would You Do?” got a larger reaction than some of the album tracks. They teased the crowd with the opening notes of the favourite Flaws before kicking into a fantastic “Rhythm Is A Dancer/Rhythm Of The Night” mashup. The night built up to the huge single “Pompeii”. To Kill A King came back on stage, there were hugs and laughter and everyone, band included, were smiling and enjoying themselves. The crowd was jumping as one. Chants of “we want more” turned to “we want Flaws” and Bastille returned for an encore. “This is mental”, said Dan still appearing unable to take in his popularity, “this is by far one of the biggest gigs we’ve played.” As they finally gave the crowd what they want and Dan announced the final song “Flaws”, he pulled on his hoody and covered his head. Getting ready to go before the gig finishes? Hiding from the overwhelming reaction? No it was part of a clever plan for him to pass through the crowd and reappear on the staircase. He sang down to the crowd, ignoring the hands pawing at him and one girl literally falling at him. He kept the whole audience happy and returned to the stage before heading to the staircase on the other side. All the while the music never stopped, his voice never wavered, and the crowd kept singing out with him. To find out more about Bastille head to www.bastillebastille.com For details of all gigs at O2 Academy Bristol visit www.o2academybristol.co.uk