Featured image and gallery: Josie Hunt
Castlefield Bowl’s open-air venue hosts its seventh day of Sounds of the City 2023 with headline act Bastille, supported by Michael Aldag and Orla Gartland. The two artists were perfectly chosen to complement Bastille’s musical spectrum.
Taking time out for their Bad Blood X tour, Bastille visited Castlefield Bowl for one night only to celebrate ten years of their album Bad Blood by playing the album cover to cover. The setlist took the crowd on a nostalgic journey before bringing them back to reality again, with a few sneaky extras thrown in for good measure.
The sun started to set, streaking the sky with orange and pink, as Bastille opened with their biggest hit, ‘Pompeii’. Everyone immediately started dancing and singing along to the opening melody as we were greeted by a backdrop of a cityscape that filled the stage. The famous drumbeat in the song was done by frontman Dan Smith himself, with his own personal drum positioned front and centre.
The audience sang with nostalgic admiration as the band played through the much-loved album that we were all there to celebrate. The stage was taken over by the backing singers and talented musicians of the band as everyone got involved for ‘Bad Blood’. This is where it became clear to see the joy of the audience mirrored on each member of the band’s faces, as it’s clear that everyone attending was having an absolute blast.
A medical emergency halted the band, and they delayed their next song to allow the paramedics to do their jobs. But to keep everyone entertained, Dan called upon the audience to help him with a very special gender reveal for a lucky couple towards the front of the crowd. It was heartwarming to see everyone get involved in the drumroll, only for the entire venue to erupt in cheers when Dan yelled out “It’s a boy!” This amazing level of interaction and engagement between the crowd and artist is something that Bastille never misses, as they create a connection with their audience like no other.
Shortly after, the show continued, and Smith led an emotional performance of ‘Flaws’ as he climbed into the crowd and became one with the audience. With absolutely nothing separating him from his adoring fans, he waded through and made a point of stopping and dancing with people every now and then. He really took his time to connect with the audience in an unforgettably authentic way before heading back to the stage to re-join the band.
‘Daniel in the De’ slowed the tempo right down before jumping into ‘Laura Palmer’ and asking the crowd, “Can you feel it” as he ran to either side of the stage, climbing over everything in his way to get as far across as he could to sing to the audience. In between songs, behind-the-scenes videos flash across the big screen, sharing intimate anecdotes of the band’s time on tour. The audience laughed and cheered with each one until the concert continued with the emergence of a park bench on the highest stage platform for the emotional ‘Get Home’. The crowd collectively smiled as they spotted a very relaxed Dan lounging on the bench as he showed off his vocal talents in the mellow song.
For the second half of the concert, they brought the tempo right back with ‘Good Grief’. One of their most famous songs is known for its opening question, “So… what would you little maniacs like to do first?” that the audience recognised instantly. The energy didn’t waiver as Bastille broke into ‘Happier’, a clear crowd favourite, as everyone sang their hearts out to the lyrics within the first few words. The audience was unstoppable now, and Dan once again jumped into the crowd and bounced with everyone to the beat in a sea of motion.
Towards the end of the show, Dan humbly announced that he was losing his voice, but his performance never faltered, and it was clear to see that he was determined to give 100%. And he did exactly that. He took to the stage once again and encouraged everyone to dance with him for the last song, explaining that there’s no shame since he’s “the worst dancer in the place”. This got a round of laughter as everyone took him up on his suggestion, and the crowd danced as one to ‘Shut Off The Lights’ as the lyrics darted across the screen for everyone to join in with as nightfall descended upon us all.
All in all, Bastille’s performance at Castlefield Bowl was a wholesome experience. Taking you back ten years, everyone in this space took a trip down memory lane. The band has released a lot of music since Bad Blood, but you can see how much this early album means to every person singing their heart out in the crowd. A decade on, Bastille still knows how to put on a good show and keep joy and good vibes front and centre throughout.