Review: Bastille − No flaws apparent − on sleeves or otherwise

PUBLISHED: 14:01 16 April 2018




I have been to many Indie music gigs in my time but I have never been to one where an orchestra and choir shared the stage as they did at Bristol’s Colston Hall on Friday evening.

Bastille performing with To Kill A King frontman Ralph Pelleymounter on stage at Colston Hall in Bristol on Friday, April 13.Bastille performing with To Kill A King frontman Ralph Pelleymounter on stage at Colston Hall in Bristol on Friday, April 13.

But then Bastille are not like any other Indie band!

The four-piece, who have been around since 2010, are part way through a short tour which strips back their two top selling albums to the bones, reworking the songs, focussing on the big band aspect of their particular sound. So Bastille, who describe their influences bizarrely as a mix of classical meets 1980s cult TV classic Twin Peaks, decided to invite the string, brass and percussion sections of a live orchestra, to join them on Reorchestrated, along with a group of gospel singers. And you could immediately tell this was no easy feat by seeing how small a space each musician had to work in but it was definitely worth the effort as the result was nothing short of spellbindingly mesmerising with the emanating acoustics powerful enough to raise the roof off the Colston Hall.

From the opening number, a beautiful a capella version of the band’s biggest hit to date, Pompeii, Bastille had an adoring audience totally eating out of their hands as they stormed through a dramatic set of all their best-loved tunes, including their latest hit, I Know You, which was none the worst for the crowd singing in the place of an absent Craig David.

Bastille is the band of vocalist Dan Smith, who set it up, and whose voice is everything - flawless and trance-inducing. He only had to approach the microphone to have fans in a whooping frenzy and they didn’t care he stumbled his way through the few words of introduction to each track and instead just repeatedly thanked everyone so much.

Bastille performing with To Kill A King frontman Ralph Pelleymounter on stage at Colston Hall in Bristol on Friday, April 13.Bastille performing with To Kill A King frontman Ralph Pelleymounter on stage at Colston Hall in Bristol on Friday, April 13.

An undoubted high point came soon in when they invited the lead singer of support band To Kill A King, Ralph Pelleymounter, who Dan was at university with, to join them for a rendition of Oblivion. You could hear a pin drop as the two harmonised to perfection until fans could restrain themselves no more and exploded into clapping and jumping along in solidarity.

Other crowd-pleasers were Icarus, Bad Blood and a stunningly beautiful version of Laughter Lines with the instrumentalists coming to the fore but never in any danger of drowning out Dan’s phenomenal melancholy vocals.

Most of the tour dates sold out in minutes, testament to the band’s loyal fan base and there was certainly no disappointment evident as their unswerving appreciation manifested itself in endless jumping up and down with arms aloft, once even with phone torches, and even revellers sat in the seated areas were up and dancing.

In all, an absolutely amazing concert and I would advise anyone who has enjoyed any of their back catalogue − check out their hauntingly beautiful new song World Gone Mad which they wrote for Netflix film Bright for instance − to catch them live. All too often bands do not manage to improve on the sound they make in a recording studio when onstage but Bastille are definitely not one of those and simply just HAVE to be heard live to fully appreciate that unique sound.

Special mention also has to go to support band To Kill A King who were also fantastic and soloist Charlie Barnes who bravely stepped out with just a guitar but performed a brilliant, albeit brief set.

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