Photographs by Janine Van Oostrom
After steadily climbing up the venue hierarchy, English rockers Bastille moved up to the biggest theatre in town over at the Air Canada Centre. To open the first date on their North American Wild World tour was Mondo Cozmo, a solo artist who has seen a prolific rise in popularity in only a few months. The man who’s real name is Josh Ostrander started out the set with Chemical Dream, which consisted of five minutes of the lyrics “All my life is a chemical dream” over and over again, taking the crowd on a space adventure. While the song may seem repetitive it took everyone on a journey that was as infectious as hearing an extended version of The Killer’s All These Things That I’ve Done.
Cozmo made a crack that flew over the heads of the crowd as he claimed that since he was from Philly “if any one brings up Joe Carter the show is over”. The all ages crowd skewed so young that Joe Carter’s famous home run that clinched the Blue Jays second World Series in 1993 as they beat the Philadelphia Phillies was too far in the past. It was sad no one got the dig, and hopefully he tries it again next time in Toronto. Although really, the joke is on him as he played in the arena that Leafs legend Eric Lindros built. Another sign that the crowd was quite young as Mondo Cozmo’s performed a fantastic cover of Bittersweet Symphony that didn’t get the kind of reception it rightfully deserved, as it too was probably older than a significant portion of the crowd. The band finished their set with the biggest hit they have so far in Shine, a druggy ballad that the then packed venue finally clued into who the opening act was. It will be interesting to see what a full Mondo Cozmo album looks like as they only have a small handful of released tracks, but their live sound is terrific.
For over thirty minutes a fake newscaster that looked like it could be Darrell Hammond’s doppelganger, sat in front of a green screen and warmed up, and when the show started he “went live”. It was a large part of the band’s imagery throughout the show, speaking the interludes on the Wild World album in the theme of a early 80’s docu-news TV program, complete with bad graphics. Right from the first song the entire stadium stood on their feet and stayed that way throughout. Lead singer Dan Smith first told the crowd that how happy they were to celebrate the release of their second album and how Toronto’s stop was the first night of their North American tour. The band started out with Send Them Off! and most of the show was spent with very upbeat tracks like Warmth and Snakes. When the band played Flaws Smith left the stage and wondered through the crowd. Making his way through the floor people chased him around and took plenty of pictures up close.
Drummer Chris Wood who looks like the younger brother of Matt Berry (Douglas Reynholm from The IT Crowd) got the crowd to turn of the flashlight app on their phones and gently wave them back and forth for Oblivion, the first slow song of the night. By the time the band got to Things We Lost in the Fire the very excitable audience jumped up and down during the chorus almost making the building shake on its foundation. Literally every opening note of every song elicited loud cheers and when Smith would walk around to a new section of the crowd shrieks would emit like he was a teen heartthrob.
Smith talked about how they got in town early enough on Thursday to go to the Leafs game. An event that occurred in the same building they were now playing as they got to see our boys beat the New Jersey Devils (and on a more serious note the Leafs bathed the ice in a Union Jack hologram and a moment of silence for the London attack that happened the day prior, something that the band appreciated, seeing Canada be there for a fellow nation) and then got to go axe throwing before their big gig, which thankfully resulted in no injuries.
Smith talked about the dark meaning behind Four Walls (Ballad of Perry Smith), the convicted killer who was made famous by Truman Capote’s novel In Cold Blood, as it is a bleak subject while also quite acerbic in it’s execution. Smith sang Of The Night on a mini stage in front of the soundboard at the back of the floor while the band played on the main stage, giving more people a closer up view of Dan Smith. Much like their peers Imagine Dragons, drums play a very important role in Bastille’s sound as almost every band member had a drum or electronic drum set up to play throughout the show keeping a heavy percussive flow.
For the first encore song Smith and guitarist/bassist Will Farquarson appeared in the middle of section 120 to perform the striped down song Two Evils. Afterwards they ran back to the stage to perform two of the bands biggest hits including Icarus. The night was finished with their 2013 hit Pompeii, but before they began all the members of Mondo Cozmo were brought out to join them in singing (and playing drums!). While Bastille may have graduated to the cities biggest venue, it was interesting to see that the stage was almost half way intruding into the floor and the entire top level was closed off. They had the gear for a full stadium tour but they might need one more album under their belts to properly sell out the ACC.