This wasn’t just a normal tour– the ‘ReOrchestrated’ tour saw the band rework and reimagine songs from their No. 1 albums “Bad Blood” and “Wild World”, and take it on the road complete with an orchestra and a gospel choir.
Support on this tour came from touring member of Bastille and singer-songwriter Charlie Barnes, and long-time friends To Kill A King.
As I took my seat in the stalls of a sold-out O2 Manchester Apollo, it was hard not to notice the diversity and buzz of the crowd in attendance for the opening night of the tour. Long-time Bastille fans adorned in various merchandise to smartly dressed older couples packed out the stalls and the circle above, making for an eclectic and interesting atmosphere.
Charlie Barnes kicked things off, admitting to the crowd that he was “terrified”, although once he started playing there was definitely no need for him to be. Charlie has an incredible voice, one that always reminded me of Matt Bellamy (Muse fame), and it was nice to see him take centre stage after seeing him behind a keyboard at the back so many times previously.
Charlie played tracks from his new album “Oceanography”, including the beautiful piano led ballad “The Weather”, and the ridiculously infectious “All I Have” to finish off his set.
Next up were To Kill A King, a band I had the privilege of seeing earlier this year just down the road at the Academy, when they had just released their latest album “The Spiritual Dark Age”.
Frontman Ralph and company started things off with a gorgeous acoustic version of “Howling”, taken from the 2012 album “Cannibals with Cutlery”, and offerings from their latest release included the up-tempo “No more Love Songs” and “Spiritual Dark Age”, providing the crowd with catchy choruses to shuffle and sway along to in their seats.
Their finale saw them joined on stage by Kyle and Dan from Bastille, joining forces to perform the amazing “Choices”, a fantastic way to finish the set and ensure that the crowd were well and truly warmed up.
It was clear from the onset of Bastille’s set just how much of a special night this was going to be, as the choir began to sing the opening bars of something that at first seemed unfamiliar, it soon turned into a stunning almost acapella version of the band’s smash-hit “Pompeii” - a rendition that will stay with me for a long time.
“Send Them Off” saw them make full use of the brass section on stage with them, as well as a stunning intro to “Laura Palmer” provided by the strings and again making a triumphant return in “Warmth”.
As well as tracks from their first 2 albums, the band’s set list also included “No Angels”- a mash-up of “No Scrubs” by TLC and “Angels” by The XX from their previous mixtape, B-side “Laughter Lines” also made an appearance, as well as recent collaboration with Craig David “I Know You”, which was cleverly interspersed with Bad Blood B-side “Durban Skies” – something the fans were highly appreciative of judging by the rise in noise levels.
A slightly sombre note came in the form of “Cut Her Down”, a track from a side project by both Dan and Ralph, who joined the former on stage to perform the song. Dan states with a laugh “Imagine you’re in the Wild West, and the love of your life has just been caught and hanged” – setting the scene for the moody track which the duo played acoustically.
A moment of glorious melancholy came in the form of “Oblivion”, as Dan’s melodic vocals combined with the strings reverberated around the room, the venue became awash with a sea of smartphone lights – a truly wonderful sight to behold.
Whilst billed as a concert, it was evident as the night progressed that this show was anything but. “Icarus” and fan-favourite “Of the Night” roused people from their seats, which is something I was dubious about before the show, as I couldn’t possibly imagine being sat down for a Bastille gig - but I need not have worried as the crowd were on their feet for the majority.
The band ended with a beautiful rendition of “Good Grief”, and Dan followed this by instructing the crowd not to leave because “we’re coming back on” – as if any of us needed telling! The encore came in the form of ‘Get Home’, “World Gone Mad” which was recorded for the Netflix movie Bright last year, and finally “Weight of Living pt. 1” – a B-side from Bad Blood which as a fan was a total treat to hear live.
Bastille have been a favourite band of mine for a few years now, one of the reasons being that they re-ignited my love for live music and refuse to be pigeon-holed into any particular genre. They’re a band that aren’t afraid to take risks and be bold in their covers, collaborations and mash-ups – and as tonight proved they aren’t afraid to break down barriers when it comes to their own back catalogue, which for me is what has made the opening night of ReOrchestrated such an unforgettable gig.