By Alice Loughran, Second Year Music
Alice Loughran reviews Bastille’s set at The Marble Factory for the release of their brand-new studio album Give Me The Future which is out now.
On a bustling Friday night in one of Bristol’s largest venues, Bastille brings comfort, laughs and, most importantly, some incredible music. The gig, which sold out in five minutes, was titled unique and stripped back. However, nothing could have prepared me for the intimacy and warmth the band were about to share. ‘Who am I making it out to?’ Asks Dan Smith, standing at the entrance to The Marble Factory. He sports a blue cap and a fluffy teddy coat alongside a similarly dressed Charlie Barnes. With the revival of vinyl, each member of a bustling queue holds a record in hope of a signature or conversation.
Whilst treating myself to a glass of vodka, lime and soda, I meet the in-house sound manager. He says, ‘when I work these kinds of concerts I rarely see the band, but Bastille has been here from the get-go being hands-on and setting the stage up. Soon after, I engage in conversation with a member of the band’s team who jokingly shares his excitement for the pub afterwards. Instantly, I am intrigued by these interactions and feel I am at a gig for a local band, much less worldwide artists. The unplugged gig is put together by Bastille’s very own Charlie Barnes who, alongside the band, has been travelling around the country playing their hits, hidden gems and new releases.
Following an announcement that the gig is about to commence, fans flood into the main room to secure their spot. I am stood on stage left, side by side with all walks of life- edgy students, groups of 30-somethings, eager parents and even grandparents. The pre-music falls silent as three men assume their position on stage; Barnes on the left with a guitar in hand, Smith centre stage behind a red keyboard and Will Farquarson on the right surrounded by synthetic instruments and technology.
An atmospheric soundscape introduces Future Holds- the first song from their new album. The band weave impressive close harmonies with ingenious synthesisers before welcoming us to the sold-out show. ’Hello Bristol’ Smith shouts, ‘we are a bit of Bastille and we are so excited to be here with you tonight!’. He gleams, whilst expressing their gratitude and shock following their album Give Me The Future reaching number one. He thanks everyone for coming along and gets the crowd excited for what he describes as a ‘weird but fun’ gig.
Smith, with an A4 sheet of paper in hand, introduces each song with the name and location of the fan that has requested them. Whether you are looking down from the balcony or staring up from the crowd, it is impossible to not feel included in every aspect of the performance. Next up is an acoustic re-work of their extremely popular song ‘Happier’ which comes at no cost to the electronic influence of the original track. They live loop on the spot accompanied by breathtaking vocal virtuosity.
“Eliza from Bristol and Tom in Weymouth have requested ‘Power’” the band announces, subsequently admitting that they always forget the words to which the crowd erupts in laughter. However, when the music begins, I am unable to hear a moment of uncertainty from the musicians. Farquarson entrances The Marble Factory with descant melodies and beatboxing undistracted from his technical responsibilities. Sarah from New Zealand and Nicolas from Spain request 'Icarus' from their 2013 album Bad Blood; followed by their brand new tracks 'No Bad Days' and 'Distorted Light Beam'.
The interactive evening is hilariously narrated; Bastille answers questions such as ‘what did you have for dinner?’ and they admit they haven’t had any. Another fan asks what colour they associate with each song on the album. Farquarson interjects and admits that he has synesthesia, the condition which allows you to see shapes and colours when listening to music. He explains he sees Thelma and Louise as blue and Club 57 as green. ‘Please may I have your hat’ screams someone from the audience, to which he replies ‘No! I’ve been sweating in it all week!’. I am in admiration at the authenticity of the banter of the performers, so much so that I feel I am in a local pub let alone amongst over a thousand people.
After the deviation from the set, they perform acoustic renditions of their infamous tracks ‘Good Grief’ and ‘Pompeii’. Everyone in sight is singing along to the classics as the night nears its end. ‘I need everyone to repeat after me’ screams Farquarson, instructing the crowd to sing the words- ‘shut off the lights we don’t need them to dance!’. To my amazement, he records us and loops it leading into an unforgettable performance of my favourite song from Give Me The Future titled ‘Shut Off The Lights’. The sound sample of the crowd is accompanied by Barnes’ exquisite bass guitar playing, a shaker played by Farquarson and an immensely talented Smith. The genius audience participation created an electric atmosphere leaving the crowd on such a high I don’t think any of us wanted it to be over.
The band thank their team for their hard work as ‘it truly takes a village’ hilariously comparing their album as their child that they sell thousands of copies of. Bastille rise from their instruments to bow which is received by almighty applause. The gig was nothing short of a welcoming and intimate display of musicianship. As the room empties out, I feel inspired and grateful to have experienced such talent, musicianship and personality whilst performing their new album Give Me The Future. No matter your age or knowledge of their older repertoire, I strongly recommend you should seize the opportunity to see Bastille perform live.
Featured image: Alice Loughran
Have you seen Bastille live?