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In Review: Bastille in Cape Town

The UK group returns to ignite a sold-out audience with an electrifying performance.

9 Oct 2017 / Opinion / written by Becky Leighton / Pics by Leigh Groenemeyer

Moments before the doors were set to open, Grandwest’s Grand Arena saw a small crowd queuing in anticipation for the evening’s line-up of two local favourites and esteemed British pop band, Bastille. When fans were finally released, the audience filtering into the arena was an unexpectedly calm procedure despite the tangible sense of excitement.

Opposite the Other, Cape Town’s newest IT band, were briefly joined by a local rapper, Thabz. Together they introduced the evening with the standard of skilled performance by which the indie band have become known, teasing new tracks yet to be released and giving solid renditions of singles ‘Stutter Love’ and ‘Ride Away’.

Following the four-piece was Matthew Mole, sporting a pink shirt and matching socks as he took the stage with Gangs of Ballet drummer, Josh Klynsmith, and treated the audience to his typical flavour of playful folk music. Whether he was strumming his ukulele or acoustic guitar, or beating down on his keys, Mole’s classic charm was ever-present and his enthusiasm was echoed by the crowds who added their own choruses of appreciation for him.

After an unfortunate long wait and annoying, repetitive promotional messages from the emcee, Bastille hit the stage and the audience’s response was explosive. There were extraordinary roars from pockets of people, making it obvious where the loyal fans were rooted – cemented in the donning of various “Bad Blood” or “Good Grief” merchandise.

The technical set-up of the stage design complimented the band’s prowess with a dazzling display of impressive lighting and shifting backgrounds.

The crowd were highly receptive to Dan Smith’s lively onstage demeanor, roaring in approval at the beginning of each track and proceeding to join in united harmonies lyric-for-lyric.

Dedicated to South Africa, their performance of ‘Durban Skies’ had patriots illuminating the arena with their cellphones while bassist Will Farquarson engaged with randoms in the crowd through mischievous winks and cheeky smiles.

After a suspenseful pause in between tracks, multi-instrumentalist, Charlie Barnes, picked up his electric guitar and proceeded to astonish the crowd with a striking solo into ‘Icarus’. Following the number, Smith jokingly introduced ‘Overjoyed’ as “the most inappropriately named depressing song” which was met with bouts of laughter.

A video cast on the background screen briefly distracted the audience and the band seemed to vanish, however a second stage became apparent when they reappeared in a seated area to perform a tender rendition of ‘Two Evils’.

One of the highlights of the set was initiated by Smith throwing a nod to the side of the stage as security members appeared to flank him before they headed into the crowd to perform ‘Flaws’. The shrieks were intense as the idea of getting to touch Smith was seemingly too much for some.

Drummer, Chris “Woody” Wood, and keyboardist, Kyle J Simmons, took the opportunity while Smith was off-stage to throw a drum stick to one another on stage, while impressively maintaining the rhythm, laughing throughout and obviously enjoying themselves as much as the audience.

Bastille’s last performance in South Africa broke their personal attendance records, and their first one back is a rare treat that did not go unappreciated by all who came out.

Follow Becky on Twitter.