Bastille Cape Town review (2017)

That date in the title just to differentiate this post from a similar one 3 years ago.

Right, let’s get on with this: brief and to the point can like to be my style this morning. (UPDATE from end of post: this didn’t happen, sorry.)

First off, this was a birthday gift for our 9 year old daughter, so standing tickets were out of the question: she’d get really tired and be staring at several or more student bums for 3 hours. So we were sitting right up at the back – a position which has both its advantages (comfy seats, better view, fewer bums) and disadvantages (bit distant from the action, not quite the same atmosphere).

We arrived just in time for the first support act, Opposite The Other. Local boys done good. Not my sort of music, but there’s clearly a great deal of talent here. There was a bit of a dearth of character and stage presence though. But then, this was a first act, playing to a half empty arena some 2½ hours before the main event, and South African audiences are notoriously disrespectful anyway, so I’m not sure that anyone noticed or cared.
I’ll give them a solid 6/10. Not bad, could do better.

But then after their exit, came the MC. I missed his name, but basically he was a late middle aged American gentleman; a balding and somewhat portly chap with zero personality. Good choice for the job. And here let me digress a bit: look, I’m not sure that I could MC a concert. But that’s why I don’t MC concerts. In much the same way, I’m pretty sure I can’t do open heart surgery so I go out of my way to avoid putting myself in situations where I might find myself having to do open heart surgery.

Play to your strengths, innit?

I don’t know much about the MC last night, but I have a feeling that he might be better at open heart surgery than MCing concerts.
It sounded like he was going to be doing the Durban (Friday) and Joburg (Saturday) concerts too. You guys are in for a treat. Eish.

Fortunately, the fun sponge and his monotone verbal stumbling eventually made way for Matthew Mole (who is not actually a mole) (private joke, sorry) and even more fortunately, he was very good. Tight, professional, engaging, and clearly and rightfully proud of what he was doing. One drummer, one synth and varying sizes of strummable instrumentation, plus some well-placed confidence and that voice: a really simple combination which worked really well. Let the music do the talking, as it were. The audience was also more receptive -probably aided by some Castle Lite and some better-known songs – and the performance finished with our temporary protagonist standing on the fence at the front of the crowd and banging a big drum, yielding almost iconic imagery like this (nabbed from his Facebook page):

Good work, Matthew. 9/10. Maybe even a 9½.

Time for Mr Boring to come on again and try to evaporate any excitement or atmosphere, but amusingly, this  ime around  is  icrophone was ‘t  orking pro erly and so we were spared from much of his “witty” “banter”.

There may actually be a god, after all.

Bastille time. Volume up a notch or two. Lighting up several more. And a huge welcome as the band took to the stage, introduced by a video of their strange newcaster, who resurfaced again and again during the evening. We began with Send Them Off! and from the get go, the huge energy was evident. The familiarity of Laura Palmer – a beautiful, almost orchestral version with soaring strings reminiscent of The Sun Always Shines On TV -really got the crowd going and we were away. Even more so when Dan wandered out into the crowd while performing Flaws. And then memories of Kirstenbosch 3 years ago were stirred as the audience talked right through a beautiful rendition of Overjoyed. You rude bastards. All of you.

A good setlist of stuff followed with songs from Bad Blood and Wild World cleverly combined to not stray too far from the familiar, nor lose the energy while also showcasing their slower “massively depressing” (Dan’s words, not mine) music.

We got an emotional Durban Skies dedicated to Dan’s family (and notably only ever performed live in SA) and then an acoustic Two Evils from the balcony just down in front of us, before a really weird ending to the set, with Things We Lost To The Fire and then Pompei and then… nothing. Even though the newsreader on the big screen told us “That’s all!”, it took the house lights coming up and the roadies dismantling the drum kit before the rather confused audience started to leave.

But this oddity aside, it was a brilliant performance. Energetic, loud, entertaining and captivating. And all so hugely professional. Really amazing. About 20 songs, about 90 minutes on stage. Great value for money. They’ll be joining Matthew on a high quality 9½. (Don’t be sad. I don’t give out 10s easily.)

Oh, and before we go: a shout out to Grand West. They really do do concerts well there. Extra exits, well lit temporary pathways to the car park, helpful staff prepaid parking tickets, brilliant traffic control. Each bit saves just a few seconds, but add that up across 7,000 strong crowd and it makes a big difference. There’s a lot that other venues could learn from them.

Concert tonight/We Were Beautiful

It’s another Rite of Passage moment this evening as we take Scoop to her first “real” concert. She’s done several local acts at local places…

…but this evening’s Bastille concert at Grand West will be her first international one.

Thus, I thought it would be appropriate to stick a Bastille tune on here. However, having gone to their Youtube, I then spotted the new Belle and Sebastian video that I’ve been wanting to share for ages. And given that I’m going to see the real thing later, I felt that I might as well forgo a Bastille video and give you that instead.

Really good song. Really simple video. A Saturday morning in Glasgow. And a trumpet.

Concert review tomorrow (maybe).

The Bastille in Cape Town review

Finally, he gets around to it – just in time for the Friday night revellers to know that they’re going to have a great time tomorrow night.

The grey clouds over the mountain disappeared and took with them any worries of rain, leaving a pretty peach sunset as support act Bed On Bricks entertained us for a good 40 minutes.

IMG_20140108_173052      DSC_0069
It’s always a bit sad for support acts, but no-one goes along to see them. Still, great exposure for the Cape Town outfit who have been around for 10 years now and you probably know more of their tracks than you think.

But then, much to the delight of the screaming female hordes, Dan Smith, his grey hoodie and his hair – oh, and his three chums, of course – emerged to the theme from Twin Peaks. And even the annoying Afrikaans girl next to me shut up for a couple of seconds as they launched into a powerful rendition of Bad Blood, which set the tone nicely for the rest of the evening for the band, although sadly not for the annoying Afrikaans girl.

Each song was performed precisely, professionally, energetically and individually. No fancy segues here, we had a song, we had a break of sound and light and then we had another song. And the light show was excellent, backlit silhouettes moving purposefully around the stage, while Smith smashed drums and headbanged his way through his performance up front, with such energy that he often seemed breathless in the interludes. Still, he managed to please the audience with the usual (but honest) “most beautiful place we’ve ever played” line (Joburg, you might not get this bit) and he seemed genuinely humbled to be in SA.

Overjoyed was ruined by our irritating neighbour talking loudly about her economics book, before we moved on to The Silence (song, not annoying girl) and then into a new song, Blame, with a heavy rock’n’roll theme coupled with the almost monastic Bastille vocals. Weird, but it really works and almost had a Depeche Modey feel to it – and that’s no small compliment. Laura Palmer was followed by These Streets and then another new one: The DrawDecent stuff it was too, although Dan needs to sort his repetitive, weedy, computer-says-no “I hope you like it” introduction out.

Cleverly, (because we’ve covered this issue of bands playing their established hits versus the need to showcase new music before) each new song was followed up by a couple of well-known numbers – Icarus and Flaws in this case.

And then they were off, ahead of the three song encore of the quiet Get Home (shut up, just SHUT! UP! Afrikaans girl), Of The Night – in which the audience were invited to pogo at the appropriate time and the grand finale, obviously, Pompeii.

A great night, a really professional performance and just one of those concerts when you could simply enjoy the musical genius of the guys on stage. Smith is obviously very into his music and the technology surrounding it, even more interesting when juxtaposed against the raw power of his drum beating, but the presentation of the songs was utterly flawless. It was odd, because this very clinical approach – no extra decoration or fuss – would usually have completely spoiled any gig, but here, it made perfect sense.

Bastille are a very listenable band and the new stuff shows only a very slight variation from their already established form. The next album, therefore, should be full of promise, but in the meantime, if you have a chance to see them live, do yourself a favour and get there – it’ll be well worth it.

Some very atmospheric photos here.

Bastille at Kirstenbosch – rain free?

We’re here, and for the first time in three days, IT’S NOT RAINING! (yet)
image

“Grey clouds roll over the hills,
Bringing darkness from above”

Bring on the music.

Overjoyed

Yes, it’s finally just (about) 48 hours until Bastille play Kirstenbosch Gardens, which is something I’ve been looking forward to for quite a long time now. Sadly, the weather forecast is currently not looking so hot. Or dry. Hmm. As with all Kirstenbosch concerts, the show goes ahead no matter what the weather throws our way.

Still, I’ve done plenty of concerts in the rain before, so herewith Overjoyed – perhaps the most underrated song on their Bad Blood album – with its unnecessarily complex Alt-J-style drum machine background and David Lynch-esque “girl next door buries diary in woods and becomes a prostitute” themed video.

Looking at their recent setlists, we can expect to hear Overjoyed on Wednesday evening, which will please me, if no-one else.

If you’re going along on either Wednesday or Friday, here are the times that things will be happening (valid for both evenings):

17:00 – Gates Open at Kirstenbosch Gardens
19:05 – Bed On Bricks
20:20 – Bastille
21:30 – Concert ends

Expect parking chaos and potentially *gasp* mud.
But above all, expect Dan Smith, his hair and that voice.