Bastille concert review – Cleveland Masonic Auditorium – May 28, 2014
Bastille’s concert last night (Wednesday, 05.28.14) was originally scheduled for House of Blues, but due to high ticket demand, was later moved to the Cleveland Masonic Auditorium, a venue that holds twice as many people, offering solid proof of how far the band has come in the few short years they have been creating music together.
As stagehands scurried about prior to the band’s entrance, fans became increasingly excited to see a setup that included a standard drum kit, a secondary smaller set of floor tom drums, two keyboard sets, a synthesizer, and guitar.
When the four band members took the stage in front of a backdrop of their classic triangle logo, the room filled with piercing screams. Lead singer Dan Smith jumped around excitedly as the band kicked into their 2013 album title track, “Bad Blood” that instantly brought fans to their feet. Having only one major full length album to their name, hardcore fans had less studying to do to memorize all the song lyrics so they could sing along.
‘Bad Blood’ was released three years after the band formed, allowing the group plenty of time to let the album progress. Singles and EP releases preceded the album, which debuted at #1 in the band’s native UK, where the record has also been certified platinum. ‘Bad Blood’ also charted on the Billboard 200 Chart in the United States.
While Bastille’s musical style doesn’t vary too much from one track to the next on the record, each tune shares a unique and captivating story, which left those in attendance attentively listening and holding on to every lyric that spilled from Smith’s lips.
The energy from the band radiated into the audience. Throughout the night, fans, no matter if they were pinned against the barricade on the open floor or clinging to oxygen masks at the top of the theater, mimicked Smith’s spontaneous dance moves, especially on standout tracks “The Silence” and “These Streets.”
While poor lighting effects can put a damper on otherwise great shows, great lighting techniques frequently go unnoticed. Not tonight. In addition to pulsing light flashes being perfectly in sync with Smith’s smashing of the floor tom, the mood to each song was accompanied by appropriate lights.
Figuratively speaking, Smith maintained an up close intimacy level with his audience all night long. Literally speaking, Smith got up close and personal with his fans during “Flaws,” using a security guard as a fullback as he followed him through the aisles of the auditorium seats, stopping to dance with fans around the venue.
Dan Smith parties with the crowd during “Flaws.” Video courtesy of YouTube user Shaina Pearlman
After taking a bow and thanking the audience, paying customers that filled the packed venue demanded more for their money as they relentlessly beckoned the band back onstage for an encore. Beginning with an upbeat version of “Daniel in the Den,” Bastille followed with “Of the Night” (a clever mash up of Corona’s “Rhythm of the Night” and “Rhythm is a Dancer” by Snap!), bringing the ass-in-seat count to zero. Fans followed Smith’s instructions to “get low” and jump on his command.
Surprising nobody, Bastille ended the night with their smash hit “Pompeii,” leaving fans standing in awe and ecstasy as the band exited the stage.
Smith was a man of few words during the show, not because he wanted to rush through his set and scurry back to the comfort of his tour bus, but to pack as many songs into the setlist as possible, letting the music speak for itself. Bastille set out to provide concert goers with a night of passionate, high energy songs, performed by talented musicians, and that is exactly what they did.
Prior to Bastille rocking out, fellow Brit’s Wolf Gang made an impression on the crowd with fast tempo songs and fun stage presence. Opening their set with the title track of their EP ‘Black River,’ the alternative rock act highlighted their set with fan favorites “The King and All His Men” and “Lions in Cages.” Wolf Gang humbly stuck around after the show to shake hands, snap photos, and personally thank fans for coming out early and catching their set. This was refreshing, considering how many opening acts subscribe to the Johnny Manziel logic that it’s OK to be an ego-maniac before proving one’s worth. Wolf Gang’s sincere gratitude resulted in a merch table that sold out of their new EP not long after the show ended.