Bastille: How they refined their politically charged festival show for a Euro crowd

If you thought Bastille’s second album, ‘Wild World’ was a sign of the madness to come when it was released in September last year, then boy, we can’t imagine how you’ve been handling the planet since. But as the world continues to be a fascist’s plaything, one of Britain’s finest pop bands have upped their game on their crowning festival run. Here, at Netherlands’ famous Lowlands Festival, saw them do it with style.

Arriving on the Alpha stage at mid-afternoon to a roaring crowd, the four-piece launched into ‘Send Them Off!’, a mind-melting pop bonanza – but one that deals with the planet’s collective paranoia. “I’ve got demons running round in my head/And they feed on insecurities I have” is as succinct a way of putting us all together as any.

That’s not the only time, mind. On ‘The Currents’, which frontman Dan Smith described to NME to as “about hearing people using the platform they have to say something you find abhorrent, and just wanting to escape,” the four piece find a middle ground between sticking it to the Farage’s and Trump’s of the world, and to crafting a driving indie-pop gem.

When the ‘Wild Wild World Tour’ kicked off last summer, Smith was in an apprehensive mood about heading out on the road, “being up on stage in front of people that you don’t know – and doing something as ridiculous as singing f**king songs – there’s something really, like, anxiety-provoking about that.” No doubt. But the way in which over the last year Smith has negotiated any apprehension, and continued to use his platform to hold those into account is nothing less than admirable.

Take on ‘Good Grief’, for example, he may sing about watching the world “through his fingers”, but by effortlessly conducting the gigantic, international crowd – Smith’s frontman credentials improve show-on-show. None more so evident than on ‘Laura Palmer’, as he races through the crowd getting up close and personal.

While Smith and the mechanics of the incredible live band continue to excel, post-capitalism paranoia is rife in the show’s expansive stage visuals. Old-school adverts combine with images of war, stock market tickers and mock news announcements. The biggest, and most defiant middle finger arrives on ‘Fake It’, where a mock Theresa May displays her infamous ‘Strong & Stable’ manifesto and cruelly mimes the song’s wistful chorus, ‘let’s try our very best to fake it’. 

First album cuts ‘Pompeii’, ‘Flaws’ and ‘Bad Blood’ offer euphoric moments aplenty during the show, as well as early mixtape mashup of ‘Rhythm Of The Night’, where the crowd spring into life. But a year into this mammoth tour, it’s the ‘Wild World’ tracks that showcase a band truly at the pinnacle of their live show, and also with something truly worthwhile to say.