The Plymouth Pavilions is an odd venue. Walking in to collect my tickets, I almost felt like I should be settling down to watch a pantomime rather than waiting to see Angel Haze and Bastille. Selling chicken mayo rolls and an array of shortbreads in the foyer I got a distinctly canteen feel, which complemented the school hall-like auditorium, complete with beige velvet curtains and plastic chairs. So to say that the venue complemented the artists would be a falsehood, but nevertheless, the evening was entertaining.
Arriving late as I always seem to do, meant that Angel Haze was half-way through her support slot. I can’t lie and say I was disappointed to have missed the first half; while rap isn’t exactly my genre of choice I can appreciate talent when I see it. Angel Haze certainly possesses this, but I can’t say that it comes across when she performs live. In my opinion, the stage was too big for her, and there was just too much going on. Extremely loud pre-recorded vocals were being played into the auditorium, and the rapper was occasionally adding to them by shouting the occasional “Uh!” or sometimes she uttered a “Yeah!”. I’d really recommend that if you want to check out Angel Haze, listen to her album rather then stopping by at a live show. An odd choice of support for a Bastille gig in my opinion.
After a lengthy wait, Bastille took to the stage just before half 9 and it’s safe to say that I’ve never heard such a high pitched wall of screaming in my life (and I’ve been to a lot of gigs). It’s clear that Justin Bieber has found a tough competitor in Bastille to steal away his teeny-bopper fanbase. In fact it was almost like an automatic detector flung out high-pitched squeals like clockwork as frontman, Dan, went to the right-hand side of the stage. Not to say that this was a bad thing; I actually found it quite funny. You would think that going to a gig and finding yourself as one of the more mature spectators means you tend to get quite a good view as you can see over the top of everyone’s head. Yet this is no longer the case as we’re in the 21st century, which means that every single member of the audience must hold their phones up and record the entire show that’s happening right in front of their faces. A peculiar reaction to an experience that’s supposed to be entirely immersive. Nevertheless, although the audience at Plymouth sucked, Bastille were pretty good.
Opening with Bad Blood (always a classic), the beginning of Bastille’s set was explosive. An impressive stage production of flashing lights and a huge Bastille-esque triangle displayed a close-up of the band; I particularly enjoyed the close-ups of Dan doing his signature one-handed drumming in between his manic running/dances around the stage. Despite his admission that he is “a terrible dancer”, I thought it merely added to their British-ness that their frontman couldn’t dance to save his life. Made me feel more at home. The band went on to play a rather odd setlist, primarily made up of bonus songs and B-sides, such as Laughter Lines, The Poet, and The Silence. They even threw in a cover of Matthew Good’s Weapon, for which Angel Haze came back to collaborate with the boys. We were, however, treated to a brand new song, Blame, which encapsulates the band’s signature sound but with a slightly darker edge.
For me, the highlight of the gig was the encore. Returning to the stage to the sound of that familiar high-pitched squeal, Dan launched into a solo performance of Daniel In The Den - just him and his piano. It was a sweet rendition, and great to hear one of the lesser-known tracks from their debut live. Next up was Of The Night, and the energy of this performance was fantastic. The crowd were quite bearable during this song, and some of them even put their phones away so they could dance (shock). And finally, of course, the boys ended with a loud rendition of The Lion King-esque Pompeii. Many may say this is a cliched decision, but I thought it ended the evening on a high.