Impromptu Gig Review: Bloc Party

July 27, 2009

Bloc Party

It all began innocently with a text during my law lecture this afternoon. ‘Bloc party are playing a secret show in the Valley tonight…be there’. And although it wasn’t actually so secret in the end (turns out it was a competition with the Nova radio station, of all things), the gig was incredible. 300 of our (not so) closest friends gathered in the cramped but much-loved Valley Studios to witness another side of Bloc Party seldom heard before. Full review after the jump.

My mind is completely and utterly blown. I didn’t get Splendour tickets, but had seen BP at the Riverstage towards the end of last year. And oh, did they rock. I was interested to see how a small intimate venue like the studios would compare to the spectacle that was their show at the Riverstage, and it did not disappoint.

Opening with Halo from their latest album, it was clear pretty quickly that the nova-listeners in attendance were not the biggest fans. Certainly, looking around you could see some lips mouthing lyrics here and there, but it seemed that most were just there for the sake of it. Which normally would piss me off to no end, but tonight it actually worked out in everyone’s favour. Because the band had to work so hard for the audience’s attention, they put on a show that blew any festival appearance out of the water.

Steadily working through a mix of tracks mostly from their first two albums, another side of singer-front-man Kele began to appear. Usually very shy, Kele was cracking jokes with the audience, and on numerous occasions jumping into the crowd whilst singing. During Mercury he even made his way to the back bar and stood up there for the rest of the song.

Kele on the back bar during Mercury.

Kele on the back bar during Mercury.

A highlight for me (and coincidentally one of my favourite BP songs), was Signs, off their latest LP. A surprising addition of Song For Clay (Disappear Here) did not disappoint. But it was the addition of a rarely-played Plans from the debut Silent Alarm that had even the most casual of fans in awe.

I was lucky enough to make my way up the front, which really added to the intimacy (get it?!?) of the whole night. While they were amazing in a stadium setting like the riverstage, it was great to see them relax in a different setting. You could tell it took them back to the old days of playing in British pubs.

A 4 song encore finished the near 80 minute set off, and it was the closing song Helicopter that finally got the crowd really going. Pity that couldn’t have happened earlier, but it’s a very small critique for what was overall an excellent gig, if not an unexpected one.

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