Live Music Review: Bastille at 3Arena, Dublin

4/5

There are reluctant lead singers and there is Bastille’s Dan Smith. The British band’s largest ever Irish show found the self-confessed introvert wrestling visibly with the responsibilities resting on his shoulders as leader of an arena-scale pop band.

And while he effectively communicated the twitchy angst that is the driving force behind his best songs, it was clear that playing the crowd pleaser is a job he is still growing into. The concert was in support of Bastille’s second album, Wild World, which sees the group giving Coldplay a run for their money as purveyors of empathetic wide-screen pop.

An additional novelty at 3Arena was Smith’s appealingly nervy stage presence. As was his job, the tall-haired vocalist dashed back and forth, beseeching fans to clap along and, on several occasions, wading into the crowd, singing amid the selfie-snaps.

He was obviously working through conflicting emotions throughout attempting to reconcile his desire to reach as wide an audience as possible with a disdain for the celebrity that has come his way.

Such turmoil was occasionally a distraction but often complemented the music, as on the gloriously suffocating ‘Laura Palmer’ (one of many tracks inspired by his passion for filmmakers such as David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick) and the funereal ‘Things We Lost In The Fire’.

Smith has a talent for taking pedestrian feelings of worthlessness and using them as a springboard for cloud-scraping escapism. So it was with the recent single ‘Good Grief’, an anthem of self loathing that soared on gleaming synths, and ‘Bad Blood’, the brooding title track from Bastille’s 2013 debut. Wisely saved for the encore, break-out hit ‘Pompeii’, for its part, was revealed as the perfect showstopper, with Smith’s Morrissey-esque lyrics conjuring rain-clouds amid the sugar-spun melodies. Consider the gauntlet laid down, Chris Martin and chums.


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