The weather’s gone nuts lately. Record breaking temperatures in February, which gave us a premature burst of summer heat and sunshine for a week or so.
A heck of a contrast to the previous February, when we got a loud and vicious roar off the Beast From The East, with snow, ice and Arctic conditions across the country.
In January this year, we had more bad weather, with snow, ice, dangerous seas and travel mayhem which scuppered many plans, including spoiling a night out for Irish fans of UK band Bastille, who had to pull a show in Dublin when their equipment got stuck in the UK when the ferries stopped running.
The band re-scheduled the sold out gig at the Olympia for last night, and low and behold, the gale force winds and belting rain decide to make a fresh appearance.
Race goers at the first day of the Cheltenham Festival yesterday were battered by the wind and rain, but the racing went ahead, with warnings that should the forecast be correct for day two; with winds expected above 50 mph, the event would have to be cancelled.
That’s this afternoon…and last night and today where I live, the street’s wheelie bins have taken up formation flying and mine has landed in a new post code!
So the band, their crew, the gig promoters and the fans were all relieved when the gear got there and the show went on for the Bastille lads in Dublin. Ending a successful “Still Avoiding Tomorrow” tour with what should have been the first gig of said tour back at the end of January.
The band have no issue filling big arenas, after three albums and selling more than nine million units, many nominations for prestigious awards, including a Grammy, and winning a Brit award for Best Breakthrough.
But this venue is far more intimate. Capacity well below 2000, a mix of standing and seated. Up close and personal you might say. A treat for die-hard fans.
Dan Smith formed the band in 2010 in London from a solo project, joined by Kyle Simmons on piano, keyboards, backing vocals, bass and guitar, Will Farquarson on guitar, bass, backing vocals and piano/ keyboards and Chris “Woody” Wood on drums, percussion and backing vocals.
For gigs, since 2015 they are joined by touring member Charlie Barnes on guitar, piano, keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals, percussion and bass.
The band’s name comes from the French national holiday Bastille Day, celebrated on 14th July, which is Dan Smith’s birthday.
The band were clearly well up for it and their energy levels didn’t dip once throughout their 22-song classy set. The sound quality added value to a great night, unlike some cavernous arenas which can cause sound issues for the big gigs.
They kicked off with a big tease; the first song, the Cat Stevens cover, “Wild World” from last year’s “Other People’s Heartache Pt. 4” mixtape, performed in low moody light behind a giant net curtain.
Then into “Quarter Past Midnight”, the lead single from their next album “Doom Days”, before “Send Them Off” and the November 2017 Craig David and Bastille collaboration “I Know You”.
A dozen songs in, out comes the support artist ONR aka Scottish artist Robert David Shields. He’s signed to Capitol Records and so far has released four singles (in 2017 and 2018), and turned in a solid set with his band.
He was invited out by Dan Smith to share the the lead vocal on “Fake It”. Nice job.
Bastille delivered songs from their 2013 # 1 debut album “Bad Blood”, 2016 album “Wild World” and the imminent new album, “Doom Days,” which Dan Smith describes as an “apocalyptic party record”.
A giant digital alarm clock display is shown on the screen backdrop, with extracts of their song lyrics.
Very cinematic and creating a moody, uncertainty in ambience; pretty apt when at the very same time as these boys are knocking it out the park across the water, back in London, the lunatics running the asylum were voting down, (yet again), Theresa May’s Brexit deal (or lack of!) inside the House of Commons.
But tonight it was all about Bastille, not Backstops, hard borders or alternative arrangements.
Front-man Dan Smith stopped the band mid-song during the show, to allow medical staff to attend to an audience member who needed to be helped out of the standing area, and Dan would not re-start the gig until he knew they were OK.
Dan toasted the Irish fans during the set, with a cold pint of the black stuff held aloft before supping the creamy head and into the black velvet. Cheers lad. Or should I say, slàinte.
“World Gone Mad” from the Netflix movie “Bright” takes the mood down even darker, but the hands are in the air out there in the auditorium, gently keeping time as the fans stay patient for something perhaps more upbeat and the big songs they know and love.
More sombre moments when the screen shows footage of an atomic bomb going off, to the track “Pompei”. (Seeing that footage, inspired a random thought: the support guy is called ONR, which is also the abbreviated initials for The Office Of Nuclear Regulation. Told you it was random!)
But the penultimate cut, “Of The Night” does the trick to get the crowd jumping and the adrenaline pumping on and off stage.
The band won a deserved encore and delivered faultless renditions of “Happier”, the Marshmello and Bastille summer hit, closing with the banger “Flaws”.
The video screen asked the question, in giant letters, “Can you feel it?”
From the volume of the roars for more and the screams and applause at the end of this triumphant Dublin concert – from a band who clearly have a lot more to give and are still evolving after nine years of their career – the answer to that question is very much in the affirmative.