Photo Credit: @bastilledan on Twitter
You may have spent the last Saturday of October celebrating Halloween, either by going out or just staying in and binge watching horror movies. Maybe you did neither of these, but if you were lucky enough to attend the Bastille gig at Plymouth Pavilions you’d know that it was far from your casual Saturday night. If you missed the gig you can just catch them next time and if you’d just rather read about it and pretend you were there here are some of the most exciting parts of the night.
This particular gig almost didn’t happen as Pavilions ‒ at a capacity of just 4,000 ‒ is one of the smallest venues of the tour by far. Perhaps we have drummer Chris Wood to thank as he jokes that he “practically threw a tantrum and insisted!’’ it happened. We’re glad he did too, as seeing venues on this tour with a capacity of less than the 16,000 of Barclaycard Arena and the 21,000 of Manchester Arena reminds us that Bastille are, despite their monumental success, trying to remain grounded and not ignore often-overlooked areas such as the South West.
As soon as you stepped in the room you could tell it was going to be a good gig; the atmosphere was heavy with excitement as people were already dancing and cheering for the support acts Rationale, CHILDCARE, Leah Dou and Jagara. A particularly impressive aspect of the show were the visuals. Occupying the stage were two human-like mesh and bronze figure sculptures recreating the album cover for Wild World which featured two people sitting on a roof outlooking a large city. Lead singer Dan Smith and his bandmates even made sure to credit the artist Nikki Taylor at some point in the show. We were also touched by the appreciation they showed for everyone who partook in the shooting of the cover ‒ a clip of it even being played during their performance of Glory. This was definitely a moment that made one realise how seriously Bastille takes every aspect of their work, proving how art and visuals were just as important in the process as playing instruments and recording lyrics.
All the many themes found in Bastille’s new album and their new singles’ videos were projected through large screens while a series of new songs were performed. Dozens of pop culture references made an appearance in the one-and-a-half hour show as every track was introduced with playbacks of clips ranging from the 50s up until the 90s, radiating all sorts of different vibes. The contrast of the mythological world of Icarus from the band’s first album to the gloominess of Wild World’s Four Walls (the Ballad of Perry Smith) inspired by a Truman Capote 1966 mystery novel created a rather thematically diverse atmosphere. This was a perfect representation of the many conflicting fictional and historical themes that Bastille have incorporated in their music and artwork in the past years. It seemed that throughout the entire gig you too were lead on this journey through time, history, fiction and mythology, all while Bastille brilliantly performed with an excitement and passion that was reflected on the audience.
A highlight of the night was when Dan asked the audience to kneel down before playing the chorus of their older single Of the Night and to jump as high as possible when the beat dropped. Every person in the audience did as told and those few seconds that followed consisted of some four thousand people jumping, dancing and singing along. Delightful was also the fact that between songs Dan and his bandmates took a few minutes to thank the crew and make a couple of jokes between themselves (you’d think they were comedians and not an internationally successful and acclaimed band).
The encore is usually the saddest part of a gig as the audience becomes aware that the show is drawing to an end but when Dan walked back on stage to play Two Evils while a spotlight shined on him, you were not sad but mesmerized by a performance that was not short of emotion. Finally, the band were joined by Rationale to close with their enormously popular song Pompeii while the entire arena echoed with singing ‒ an ending quite as big as you’d expect for a performance this captivating.