Tonight is a one off gig for bastille, celebrating 40years of virgin records, their label. Whilst on their own sold out UK tour they played to much larger venues – with their London dates consisting of two sold out nights at the prestigious Brixton academy – tonight is a chance for fans to see them in a slightly more intimate setting.
It was only last year that they played this venue for the first time, during their first proper headline tour, and since then their careers have skyrocketed with a no1 album not to mention sold out tours across Europe, America and South Africa next year.
So onto the gig, as a wheelchair user I tend to get a pretty good view and tonight was no exception – looking straight out to the stage from the first balcony. The first act is JOSH RECORD who is also signed to Virgin records. However he was not due to play his set till 8pm, and having opened the doors at 6.30pm this lead to a lot of waiting around. It would have perhaps been better to add another support to fill the time.
The crowd isn’t perhaps the stereotypical screaming teenagers that many have come to associate with Bastille’s shows – perhaps because of the 18+ age restriction on the gig.
But at 8pm sharp Josh Record walked on stage, guitar in hand and ready to try and win over the crowd. Having heard a few of his tracks online I was interested to see how these would translate to a live set and how a crowd there to see bastille – an admittedly far rockier and upbeat live act – would take to him. No need to worry though because his gentle melodies and beautiful harmonies had the crowd captivated before the first song had finished. He played a set of 8 songs including his new single Bones that I would thoroughly recommend you check out.
Being a long time bastille fan and having seen them twice before I knew we were in for a treat and at 9pm when the boys bounced on to stage they did not prove me wrong. Starting with their album title track “Bad Blood” where singer Dan Smith displays some of his famous dance moves, the crowd loyally sings every word back to them before they move straight into their last single “Things We Lost in the Fire” which with the live string section sounds incredible.
They then slow things down with “Overjoyed”, where Smith showed of his vocal talents and sent the crowd into an inevitable frenzy. The energy is soon ramped up in the room again as they break into “The Silence” arguably one of their heaviest songs which features Keys player Kyle Simmons stepping out and playing bass guitar. He runs around the stage jumping all over the place and generally looking like he is having a ball – perhaps in the future he could escape from behind the keyboard more often.
They follow this up with the first of three new songs played tonight “Campus”. This sees Bastille head in a slightly more electronic direction with sampled sounds and affected vocals whilst maintaining the unique bastille sound. Having played this on their UK tour, there are many fans in the room that already seem to have some of the words down. This moves seamlessly into their cover of “What Would You Do”, a fan favourite and a song that if you didn’t know better you would think was one of their own. This was missed of the set list when they played Brixton and it was nice to see it back as it always gets such a crowd reaction.
The next song is one of the non-single album tracks “Daniel in the Den”. A song that until recently they tended not to play live but it is always a treat to hear some of the more stripped back songs, with this possibly replacing “Oblivion” another slower song that did not make the cut tonight.
They then play “Weight of Living Part2”, another album song that gets the crowd going.
Next up is the second new song of the night “Blame” which couldn’t be more different to their earlier offering of “Campus”. “Blame” heavily features electric guitar, something that until now they have avoided using in their music but has now opened up a whole new sound for the band.
Single “Laura Palmer” and album track “These Streets” follow, complete with Smiths signature dance moves – the pogo, the hand chop and the gangsta head banging. Whilst he has become a far more confident frontman over the last year, he has managed to maintain some of the awkwardness that the fans find so endearing.
“The Draw” is the last of the new songs and probably my favourite. It is included on the re-release of their album “ALL THAT BAD BLOOD”. Starting with just Smith’s vocals and heavy bass, the song then explodes into heavy guitars, rock drumming and a whole lot of head banging from band and audience alike. Their new songs venture into new territory for the band but they remain distinctly bastille, held together by Smith’s vocals and lyrical storytelling framed by the complex instrumentation and I definitely cannot wait hear what other sounds they choose to explore in their new material.
The final two songs are “Icarus” and “Flaws”. The intro to “Icarus” is an impressive piece of drumming from Smith and Simmons and my personal favourite from their album, and it seems that many of the crowd agree. It has become a tradition that during “Flaws” Smith goes into the audience and walks through the crowd and as he puts his hood up – the fans tend to get a little too enuthusiactic when grabbing the famous quiff – the crowd starts to go wild. Once in the crowd Smith managed to somehow keep his vocals on point while being mobbed by the audience. He doesn’t manage to get all the way across the floor instead getting stuck in the middle and jumping around for a while before getting helped back to the safety of the stage. And with that they all run off stage for a quick breather.
It is not long before they are back on, and playing “Get Home” one of their more minimal songs with layered vocals. This is definitely one of their more understated songs but the crowd seem just as enthralled as when they play their harder hitting poppier hits.
The penultimate song of the evening is “Of The Night” their mix up of Corona’s Rhythm of the night and Snap!’s rhythm is a dancer. Whilst this is only just being released as a single it was included on their Other People’s Heartache mixtapes released last year and has been a staple of their live show ever since. Smith asks everyone to dance along with him so he feels “less of an idiot” as he claims he is an awful dancer. The place definitely kicks off to a whole other level and there isn’t a person standing still in sight, which continues into their last song of the night the mighty “Pompeii”. This is the song that kicked it all off for the band and ends the show on a high with everyone jumping around like they are on hot coals and shouting at the top of their lungs. The crowd continue to chant after the song has finished and with a few humble thankyous the band wave to the crowd and leave the stage.
Whether you are a fan of this band or not I thoroughly recommend you check them out live and I dare you to not start tapping your feet and singing along.