Last Friday saw the return of the mighty Bastille to the O2 Academy in Oxford for their sell out Bad Blood tour. My expectations were high, though slightly cautious. I have been disappointed in the past by bands who put out a hugely successful album but lack conviction in their live shows. Fortunately, this was not to be the case on a miserable Friday evening on the Cowley Road.
To Kill a King were perfectly suited as a build act up for the headliners. A heady mix of deep base and strong guitar riffs accompanied by close harmonies was just what was needed to lift the spirits of a very soggy crowd. The band played tracks from their new album Cannibals with Cutlery, as well as a track with all four members of Bastille, which was greeted by an explosion of cheers (partially due to the outstanding world map print hoody Dan was wearing). Their music was reminiscent of bands like Fleet Foxes, erring a little towards a Mumford & Sons vibe with a hint of folky undertones. I managed to catch Ralph, the lead singer and frontman after the gig and between signing autographs for glassy eyed teenage girls he told me how privileged he and the rest of the band felt to be supporting such an fantastic band so early in their career. Definitely one to keep an eye on.
Bastille took to the stage an were instantly blown over by the cheering, whistling and screaming of the young Oxford crowd. There was a lot of head shaking and smiles of disbelief from the band before ‘Bad Blood’ was hammered to the audience with the vigour in which they were received on stage. It was almost impossible to hear Dan Smith, frontman and keyboard player, over the fans’ singing. I was instantly impressed with Bastille’s stage presence and the precision of melodies. My expectations of the live show were surpassed after the opening song, the entire band feeding off the energy bouncing around a very hot and sweaty O2.
As the set progressed, the energy continued with crowd favourites such as ‘Overjoyed’, ‘Icarus’, ‘Things We Lost In The Fire’ and a brilliant version of ‘Pompeii’ (including backing vocals from To Kill a King). We were treated to an interesting mash-up cover of ‘Rhythm Of The Night/Rhythm Is A Dancer’ which worked amazingly well with the addition of a free standing floor-tom played by frontman Dan Smith. As Dan’s hair product began to fade and as the volume of his signature doo seeped away, the crowd cheered, screamed and sang along to the bitter end.
Once the stage cleared there was a gentle rumble that built to a resonating crescendo of “Flaws, Flaws, FLAWS”, drawing the band on stage for an epic rendition of, ‘Flaws’. It is hard to know whether bands say this every night on tour, but cheers deafened me nonetheless when Dan said that it had been, without a doubt, one of the best nights of the tour and thanked the good people of Oxford for their support and kindness.
Bastille are a beautiful band to listen to and equally amazing to watch live. If you get the chance to see them, do it. You won’t be disappointed.