Review by Tom Frodsham
It’s been a few years since Bloc Party graced Manchester with their presence (2012 to be exact), which is why this time around they needed a good reason to visit us. Their forthcoming album ‘Hymns’ is out next year so this mini tour is the perfect excuse to remind old fans why we love them so much and rally up new ones. The album’s taken a while to come round because of the recent line up shake up with new members Justin Harris on bass and Louise Bartle on drums.
Albert Hall was the perfect spot for the gig, full of fans in their late twenties/early thirties, who were probably students when the band hit their popularity peak in the mid 2000’s, when British indie music was having something of a renaissance.
With an energetic show from support act ‘Steve’, the boys and girls of the Bloc Party entered the stage with an overwhelming rapture of applause and the odd pint or three thrown out from the audience. It took a few songs in for front man Kele Okereke to get the audience warmed up but once he did the crowd didn’t hold back. The set list lacked a bit of tempo consistency at times, one minute we were up bopping along like kids on a sugar high, then the next moment the mood was solemn and serious. That all changed after ‘Modern Love’, which proved the old school hits, are a always a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Shame they didn’t play ‘The Prayer’, another old school gem.
Its always a pleasure at a gig when an album track or lesser commercially known track gets a massive reception, the group managed to do that with new album track ‘Virtue’ which got a huge response. I didn’t know the track until the gig, which is why live music is so important for fans and for anyone looking to revise their iTunes playlist. It was worth the wait until the real belters of the night. The energy in the room for ‘Helicopter’ was so electric it was like bringing back 2005 all over again! Personal favourite ‘Flux’ was another standout track, but it didn’t peak until ‘Banquet’ practically lifted the roof off the place. Drinks thrown everywhere, awkward dance moves by the token 40 year old guy, couples snogging and more, ‘Banquet’ reminded the audience exactly why Bloc Party are one of the best UK live acts making a comeback right now. No exaggeration.
“We don’t do this very often but we’ve got one more song up our sleeve” said Kele before their encore and this pretty much summed up the unpredictable nature of the bands set. It might not have been a polished show but it provided Bloc Party the perfect platform to remind us what a great live act they are.