Live Review: Bastille // O2 Academy Oxford 15.2.22

Bastille have an impressive way of undermining their own talent. From coyly walking on stage with their hoods up, to apologising after every song, Bastille are the pinnacle of deflated underselling.

It’s not like they’re not talented. I could tell from where I was standing that the control in Dan’s voice was extremely powerful. It’s just… I felt nothing from the entire performance.

Perhaps this is the issue with having a couple singles disproportionately blow up – you gather an entitled crowd. Between songs, people can be heard chatting, like Bastille are an opening act at a bar. They don’t care that Bastille just played a B side from a mixtape released a decade ago. They’re going up to the bar to buy another double vodka soda to hold frigidly during another sombre rendition of an album track too new to be recognisable.

Honestly, it’s no wonder bands skip Oxford on tour.

The performance is lacking members, with awkward back and forths between songs that would work perfectly in a crowd of Bastille’s biggest fans, but there doesn’t appear to be a single fan in the crowd. Attempted banter awkwardly spirals into conversations over the legitimacy of receiving an Oxford degree, completed with an apology. It’s like a pilot for the Bastille podcast – they don’t quite know what they’re doing and they’re anxious of how indifferently they’re being received.

The Q&A section mid set could’ve proven interesting, but the crowd lacks imagination and Bastille are sick of being asked the same questions, with Dan just speeding through answers without any real substance. Similarly, a dreams segment that featured mid-show could have been executed significantly better, their surprising shyness to command attention leading to content feeling a little vapid. Something about playing a recording of a fan in the queue unenthusiastically reciting a dream through holding a phone up to the microphone screams lack of care and preparation. Literally just plug in an aux and we would be able to hear whatever empty, careless words she had to say.

fan footage of Bastille’s stripped-back Bristol date.

The intimacy could’ve been incredible, Bastille have the capacity for it, but something was just not right. I have seen Bastille before and it was electric… Maybe we should all just attend their tour later this year when they have a full band?

“This next one is also incredibly sad and depressing … you all paid to be at a Bastille gig so there must be a part of you that enjoys being incredibly sad”

Someone at the bar takes a shot.

It’s discordant, and no matter how hard the half of Bastille can try, there’s no salvaging the confused energy of the room.

So, after using the word “underwhelming” to describe their own show, calling it a “special punishment”, Dan finally stands up and says “here’s a song you may actually wanna hear”

And so starts Pompeii.

Author avatar
Chloe Spinks

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