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.
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 Draw. Decent 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.