Bastille at Birmingham Barclaycard Arena, 8th November 2016
On Tuesday night I finally ticked another band off my concert bucket list when I went to see Bastille at the Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham. After an amazing meal at wagamama, we got to the arena and into our seats as the first support act, Childcare, were performing. No offence to them, but it made me wish I’d got there a little later. Their songs all sounded the same, everybody was sat there on their phones, doing the obligatory check in on Facebook, and to be honest their music was just too loud and just sounded like noise to me. I cheered as they went off stage because I was glad I didn’t have to listen to them any longer. Wow, that was more brutal than I imagined it to be, but they really just weren’t my thing. However, the second support act, Rationale, were amazing! They got the crowd pumped up as a support act should do, and their songs were really good. I actually enjoyed listening to them for half an hour, and I’ll definitely be listening to their music in the future.
Before Bastille came on, there was a man on the screens at the front sat at a desk in a suit, reading a script like he was preparing to give a news report. Over time he did various different things – talking to himself, yawning, looking increasingly bored and impatient. Every now and again some of the members of Bastille would also appear in boiler suits, as though they were working for him, and he would make them bring him food, feed him, and even give him a massage! It was fun and entertaining to watch, and instead of the music they usually play it was such an original idea and built up the excitement even more as it was all in the theme of the album. The anticipation rose even more when he announced ‘breaking news story, more information in five minutes’, and everyone knew that Bastille were about to come on stage.
The show opened with one of my favourite songs off the new album, ‘Send Them Off!’, which was a great choice – it got everyone hyped, upbeat and dancing around from the very beginning. The news report type theme ran through this song and in fact throughout the whole show, with the screens on the right and left showing a close-up view of the stage as the words ‘breaking news: Bastille in Birmingham’ scrolled along the bottom of it which was really cool. As the concert went on, the images on the screens reflected the songs being played which was really effective.
I thought this was most incredibly used during ‘The Currents’, which was a very relevant song given that the US presidential election was going on at the same time and it is about the current state of politics and the fact that people create the rhetoric of fear and hate which is unacceptable and shocking in this day and age. The screens flashed up with various news reporters presenting ‘breaking news’ in different languages and around the world, changing and multiplying so fast that it created sensory overload. Soon there were more and more tiny news screens covering the huge screen, creating a frenzy of different reports, facts and figures, which I thought was so clever because it perfectly depicted the message of the song – the fact that we are constantly bombarded with news and media telling us all these seemingly awful things that we can’t get away from. Deep stuff, I know. But I thought it was awe-inspiring that a simple image on a screen while the words of the song being sung resonated so true, it was so original and I loved it.
Another thing I loved about the concert was the mixture of old and new songs they played. When they sang ‘Flaws’, the lead singer, Dan, jumped off the stage and walked through the crowd as he was singing. Literally walked straight through the sea of people, stopping to sing next to some of them, high fiving them, of course while about five security guards chased him around. It was really incredible and I’ve never seen anyone do that before at any concerts I’ve been to! One of the other older songs they played was ‘Oblivion’, another absolute favourite of mine. I used to listen to it in my first year of uni when I went through a bit of a lonely time, and to witness the sea of lights waving in time to it, and to hear Dan’s voice sing it so perfectly literally brought me to tears. I’m not even exaggerating, I cried my eyes out and sniffled throughout the whole song; it was so beautiful and reminded me how far I’ve come as I’ve now graduated from uni and grown a lot since those days in first year. I've uploaded the video above but for some reason the quality is completely awful!
You may be familiar with Bastille’s cover of ‘Of The Night’ which was released in 2013 and is a real feel-good song that you just want to get up and dance to. Before this song, the block we were sat in was a bit of a let-down. The view was amazing, but the people around us didn’t seem bothered. Nobody stood up, which was really weird to me because every concert I’ve been to, everyone has got to their feet as the artist came on stage even if they were seated. However, Dan came onto a tiny stage in the middle of the crowd and asked everyone to help him dance for this song because he said he was really bad at dancing. So at this point, thanks to a very drunk girl in front of us urging everyone along, most of our block FINALLY stood up and acted alive. Hallelujah. Just before each chorus Dan told us to get down as low as we could go, then when the chorus kicked in we all had to jump up and down and go crazy, which was so much fun! That’s what concerts are about for me and I was so happy.
After 19 incredible songs; a fab mix between old and new, upbeat and slow, the arena went dark as everyone waited for the encore. I saw someone point up towards the right of me, so I looked and I SAW DAN STANDING RIGHT THERE ON THE BARRIER OF OUR BLOCK. Safe to say I freaked out, and yelled ‘HE’S RIGHT THERE!’ way too loud, to which everyone turned around and started screaming and cheering. It was so surreal; he was literally a metre away from us! What are the chances that out of the 15 seating blocks in the entire arena it was ours he stood in to sing a whole song?! Everyone in our block stood up at that! He sang ‘Two Evils’ acoustically, a beautiful slow song that showed off his amazing voice, it was so incredible that it gave me goosebumps. I was so grateful to have experienced that indescribable moment so close to him, and he was really sweet and kept waving at people while he was singing, knowing how much they were going to freak out and scream every time he did. That was definitely the highlight of the night for me. You can check out the video I took on my instagram.
After he was back on the main stage, they played the final two songs, ‘Icarus’ and ‘Pompeii’, both from the first album. Both songs were so full of energy and I was dancing around, jumping up and down and just making the most of the amazing atmosphere before it was over. It ended the concert on such an upbeat vibe and left us on a massive high as the crowd continued to chant the ‘eh oh eh oh!’ from ‘Pompeii’ as the band thanked us one last time and left the stage.
If you’ve read my previous posts about concerts you’ll know how much I love interaction between the artist and the crowd; and Bastille delivered just that. Dan kept saying ‘thank you so much!’ after every single song, it was so lovely and sweet. He even realised he was saying it too much, but apologised and carried on saying it because he was just that grateful to us all. I loved how down-to-earth and humble he was – no showing off, just simple gratitude to us for being there and the fact that they had managed to sell out such a large arena.
If I had to put a negative in here all I’d say is that I wish our block had been a bit more enthusiastic and upbeat, but it picked up about halfway through and my mum and I were raving ourselves most of the time so it didn’t bother us that much! But all in all, that is the tiniest complaint ever and nothing to do with Bastille themselves, which is why I would go so far as to say it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to – and that’s a bold statement coming from someone who’s been to over 30. As I’ve mentioned, the graphics were amazing, they told the story of each of the songs and made them come alive. I loved that Dan didn’t even need to explain what the songs were about because the images reflected them so well – such an innovative and original idea that added a whole new dimension to the show, sending strong messages about current issues which are extremely relevant at the moment.
I’ve been waiting so long to finally see Bastille live, and they most definitely didn’t disappoint. I’d jump at the chance to see them again, and it definitely was a welcome distraction to everything else that was going on while and after I was there.
Have you seen Bastille live or are you going to their tour? I’d love to hear your experiences seeing them too! Any comments would be appreciated so much – tell me about your favourite concerts or what bands/artists are on your bucket list! Once again, thank you for reading, it means a lot. x