“Back home, we call that a banger.”
Kele Okereke, lead singer of Bloc Party, fired up after performing the trance-like, free flowing “Ratchet” during their 4-song encore smiled, “I told you we still had a few more rockets in our pockets!” Then they proceeded to shroud the Echostage multitude with a loud, devilish rendition of “Helicopter”.
Bloc Party started in London in 1999 and in the current formation include Kele, Russell Lissack (guitar), Justin Harris (bass) and Louise Bartle (drums). They are an alternative rock band with a heady mix of dance and post-punk. With Hymms, Bloc Party’s fifth album, they’ve lowered the decibel level, but not the intensity of their songs. Much of the new material explores personal reflections on faith and grace.
They invested a good amount of time on Hymns, playing six of these new songs (during the full 16-song set).
“The Love Within”, closed the main set, seeks to understand the influence of religion on Kele’s songwriting. It is a positive reflection on letting love in and the euphoria it causes (“Don’t you want to get high?”).
Speaking of getting high, another new song, “Different Drugs”, is a slow mediation on growing apart and the ways people can come back together.
“Into the Earth”, an almost bluesy song, soars during the chorus amid lyrical poetry that may or may not be the result of a tad too much of those different drugs. Performed live it matters little, as you are fully hooked.
Echostage as a venue is no frills. The stage itself is sparse, only the band with pulsating lights and pounding beats that vibrate through your very being. Bloc Party used the lights to good effect. Often the crowd reached high to touch the steady beams of light just out of reach (maybe just me).
“Where we come from, Thursday is the new Friday. That’s when we start to party.” As much as the new songs were good to hear live for the first time, the soul of what interested me in Bloc Party rests in their first album, Silent Alarm, where many of their true ‘bangers’ were born. They played four songs from Silent Alarm, including “Banquet”, where the lights throbbed and reformed into a surreal cubist dance party. Visually and audibly the highlight of the show.
They ended the night with “This Modern Love”, lights hinting at the illusion of walking in a forest, a ballad of the willingness to learn, to change and love someone, even if perceptions don’t match.
A fitting end to a fine show.
The last thing I will mention, The Vaccines, the opening band, were solid and entertaining live.