Bastille Review: 4/11/16 Leeds First Direct Arena

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As the audience in the sold out arena chat amongst themselves, a breaking story from Wild World Communications hits the screen. No, its not another update on the American Presidential Election, it’s breaking news that indie-pop band Bastille are about to take to the stage.

 Whilst the news reporter continues, the instantly recognisable intro of Good Grief begins to reverberate around the room. It’s quite an achievement that with only two albums under their belt, Bastille are able to play sold out arena shows. But whilst it may seem like yesterday that their debut single Pompeii was being played on the radio, three years have since passed and it’s clear the band have been honing their skills all this time, proving why they deserve to be performing to crowds of this size.

 Although the band are based in London, lead singer Dan Smith and keyboardist Kyle Simmons both attended Leeds University, so in some ways this is like a homecoming gig. “We’re back in our uni town and we’re so happy to be here,” proclaims Smith mid set. A reminder of how successful the band have become comes in the shape of Smith reminiscing about once playing the O2 Academy and Stylus, popular small venues in the city. But whilst the size of their audience may have increased over the years, the band are still as humble as when they first started. Smith continuously thanks the audience and appears taken aback by their enthusiastic response each time.

 Whilst the band may have reached major heights, Smith is able to push his way through the packed crowd to a smaller stage without being mobbed excessively. Remarkably, Smith’s voice does not falter on fan favourite Flaws as his fans move in a wave like form, pushing to get closer to the singer. As he finally makes it to the tiny stage at the back of the crowd, Smith gives an intimate performance, allowing his fans to connect with him up close and personal.

 Once safely back to the main stage, Smith takes to the piano to perform track Oblivion, from their first album Bad Blood. The string section astoundingly comes into its own, complementing Smith’s vocals which reverberate around the room. The well-crafted song is a poignant moment in the set and an opportunity which shows off Smith’s emotive lyrics.

 With a strong 22 song set, it would be reasonable to expect Smith’s voice to weaken throughout the two hours, especially given the enthusiastic dancing which accompanies the majority of the songs. However, his vocals not once fade, but in fact get stronger as the set drives on. An artist like Bieber needs to take a note from Smith as the enthusiastic frontman really provides the full package, even if he rightly admits his dancing is a bit on the embarrassing side.

 As the famous “eh eh oh’s” ring around the arena for closing song Pompeii, the audience make the most of this final song by losing all inhibitions. Leeds Arena is the perfect setting for the anthemic chorus as the 13,000 strong audience sing along word for word.  A couple in their mid 40s jump around like young teens at Woodstock Festival, demonstrating that Bastille really are a band that appeal to everyone. If the band can put on a show like tonight’s with just two albums to their name, it won’t be long until sold-out stadium shows are the norm for Bastille.

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