Can someone do something about the sound at the Bell Centre? I know I’m late to the the sound is crap at the Bell Centre party, but come on! I don’t understand why when they were building it, granted it is meant to primarily be the home of the Montreal Canadiens, they probably were not thinking of how the sound during concerts would get muffled as it rose to the rafters. But they should have been because the Bell Centre has been for years now one of the most heavily booked and most profitable concert venues in North America.
Why I’m bringing this up is because this was a very frustrating issue for anyone, including Bastille lead singer Dan Smith, over the first 30 minutes of the show last night. Dan Smith, with his gravity defying hairstyle which he has said was inspired by David Lynch, has one of the more unique voices in pop music today. Unfortunately that it was not allowed to shine for the first five songs or so due to muffling. As he performed he frequently gesticulated madly to his soundman at the side of the stage. That soundman earned his pay in that he figured things out by the time the band launched into “Blame”.
Once the sound issues were fixed it struck me how similar they sounded to the recorded versions. Smith’s voice is malleable, emotive and impassioned. He is an energetic frontman and despite his claim that he cannot dance I thought his movement on stage was cool. Every time he moved from one area to another the screams from the females rose to a piercing level. They were liking them some Dan Smith. He is also able to bound around the stage without missing a note.
After a mercurial rise which saw the band have a number one hit with “Pompeii”, a couple of AMA nominations, win a Brit Award, and sell out concerts worldwide, Bastille has become one of the many recent additions to the post-Britpop genre. Many of their songs are “big” and anthemic. At times almost choral sounding while they throw in some 80s sounding synthesizers for good measure. The songs, especially in a live setting, surge and swell picking you up in their wake.
When you really listen to the songs of Bastille you’ll discover that despite the fact that many are up tempo and peppy that they all have mature, involved and sometimes dark lyrics. Encore set opener “Get Home” tells the tale of stumbling home from a bar and wondering about the meaning of life. Philosophically slanted, Bastille certainly isn’t all sound and no substance. Their brand of melancholy seems to be highly relatable and appreciated by the masses as they have discovered how to package the navel gazing and sadness in a sound that is big and banging.
A couple of highlights of the almost 90 minute show were when a grey hoodie clad Smith ventured off the stage out into the crowd to make a tour around the Bell Centre grasping the hands of appreciative fans while singing the song “Flaws”. Another was the second song of the encore and they highly fun and cheesy cover mash up of Corona’s “The Rhythm of the Night” and Snap’s “Rhythm is a Dancer” called “Rhythm is a Dancer” where he had the crowd in the palm of his hand crouching down and then jumping up and down as he wished.
The only slightly negative thing that I could say about a Bastille show is that a lot of their music sounds the same and one song just runs into another after a bit. That hiccup should be solved once they release another album and build a more ample catalogue.
1) Things We Lost in the Fire
2) Weight of Living, Pt. II
3) Laura Palmer
4) Laughter Lines
5) Bad Blood
9) These Streets
11) The Silence
13) No Angels
14) No Scrubs (TLC cover)
16) The Draw
18) Get Home
19) Of the Night