Bastille at the Royal Albert Hall
South London anthem rockers Bastille take their “reorchestrated” concert tonight to the always-majestic Royal Albert Hall as part of their Wild World Tour. Supported by an orchestra and choir, the five-piece perform a reworking of their two albums, Wild World and Bad Blood, inspired by their Union Chapel show for local charity Streets of London.
Starting the set with arguably their most famous track, the band give an a cappella rendition of Pompeii, which becomes bare and pure-sounding in its minimalism – with only the choir adding vocals to frontman Dan Smith’s singing. Following this up with Send Them Off – from their sophomore album – the group is in full form, accompanied by additional percussion and brass. Bastille approach Warmth with a slowed tempo, displaying their skills in musical interpretation to create a different atmosphere and setting altogether. Taken from 2014 EP Oblivion, Bad News shows the ensemble at their best; dark and foreboding lyrics are brought to life by uplifting instrumentals, beating energetically, while Two Evils gains a change in tone, the saxophone delivering a drifting sultry melody. Up to this point, the backing vocalists steal the show, as the lead singer’s vocals begin to sound similar in each song, making the two-hour set wearisome. Despite this, Smith gives it his all and remains grateful throughout the performance, thanking fans continuously, who respond by screaming “I love you Dan,” every chance they get.
Icarus is lively, pumping the audience, and showing the more anthemic side as Bastille are known for. While the lead vocalist recounts the story of a woman who got into a fight at their last gig, he jokingly tells everyone to enjoy themselves but to “chill the fuck out,” going onto play a stripped version of Flaws, making use of the cavernous halls – a sentimental touch added by the phone torches of the crowd. With its religious tones and touches of grace, Glory is another hit with fans, the majesty of the venue befitting the grandeur of the number. Smith is joined by lead singer of To Kill a King, Ralph Pelleymounter, for a rendition of Annie Oakley Hanging’s Cut Her Down. The atmosphere then turns party-like, with 2013 single Of the Night mixing Snap!’s Rhythm Is a Dancer with Corona’s Rhythm of the Night, getting everyone on their feet.
The highlights of the evening are undoubtedly Craig David’s I Know You and a mashup of Angels by the XX with TLC’s No Scrubs, which works wonders, accompanied by surprise guest Ella Eyre. The encore starts with Bad Blood – Smith surprising all when reappearing at the organ, the sound dramatic with creepy undertones – and moves on to World Gone Mad, which acts as a reminder of the current state of political affairs. The frontman knows he cannot leave fans “with this horrible piece of nihilism,” and chooses to end on a happier tune with Weight of Living, Part 1.
Bastille have won several music awards, giving them this great opportunity to rework their repertoire in a world-renowned venue. Though they have an extensive set of tracks, the ones they shone in tonight were the covers, and one can’t help but admire the mix of genres on display.
Photo: Erol Birsen
For further information and to book tickets for their UK tour visit Bastille’s website here.
Watch the video for I Know You here: