Music Reviews

“The Excitement From The Crowd Was Palpable”- Live Review: Bloc Party @ Rock City

Amelia Gibbs

Touring their sixth studio album, ‘Alpha Games’, Bloc Party returned this year with their first live performances of new material since 2016. With the band being known for stellar live gigs, but the new album receiving mixed reviews from listeners, the tour begged the question of how the new material would fare up, when performed next to their adored classics. Amelia Gibbs went along to find out.

Opening their show with Day Drinker, one of the better songs from the new album, with a strong chorus and powerful riff, Bloc Party got off to a roaring start, and I was pleased to see that the band kept up that initial energy throughout the performance. Whilst I personally enjoy the new material as much as the old, it was impossible not to notice the crowd’s preference for the tracks that put Bloc Party on the map long ago.

The audience’s attention was markedly lost on occasions, such as during ‘You Should Know the Truth’ and ‘Sex Magik’, during which talking amongst the mob became so prominent that it could be difficult to hear the band themselves.

It’s perhaps reflective that lessons in audience etiquette need to be remembered after a long time spent away from gigs, though this amount of disinterest was not at all present during the fantastically performed classics from ‘Silent Alarm’ and ‘A Weekend in the City’, which saw the audience distinctly re-engage. So, despite my own opinions on the new album, something does have to be said about the fading interest in the band’s new material, and their inability to really captivate the audience during these songs.

Helicopter towards the end had everyone’s hands in the air and feet off the floor

Still, those classic songs really did make up for any attention lost during the tracks performed from ‘Alpha Games’. Hunting for Witches was performed early in the set, and the excitement from the crowd at being treated to one of the collective favourites so quickly was palpable. Banquet came midway through and reenergised the crowd as soon as that opening drum beat was heard, and the grooving guitar of Helicopter towards the end had everyone’s hands in the air and feet off the floor. By the final song, a number of people were soaring above the crowd on the shoulders of their generous friends.

Interacting with the audience frequently

Lead singer Kele Okereke delivered a vocal performance which was as strong, if not better, than that on the recordings, and he proved himself as impressive on rhythm guitar. I always appreciate getting the sense that a performer values connecting with the fans that have come to see them live, and Okereke did that by interacting with the audience frequently (even if he did momentarily forget which city he was in – a moment skilfully played out with humour which served, in the end, to humanise the band).

The other stand-out band member was relative newcomer, Louise Bartle on drums, who performed with a vigorous intensity that made her captivating to watch. The entire band seemed to be thrilled to be performing, and, as a quartet, they matched each other’s energy, and appeared to push one another to play with vigour, proving once again that the band’s current line-up can perform with as much spirit as the original members.

Amelia Gibbs

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of Amelia Gibbs. No changes were made to these images.

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