Home Live Review Live Review: Bloc Party @ 9:30 Club — 5/27/23

Live Review: Bloc Party @ 9:30 Club — 5/27/23

Live Review: Bloc Party @ 9:30 Club — 5/27/23
Bloc Party performs at 9:30 Club on May 27, 2023. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Bloc Party recently staged a dynamic and kinetic performance during a sold-out show at 9:30 Club, but the best was yet to come as Kele Okereke and his bandmates returned to stage for their encore.

The band were so excited to be playing a “proper gig,” which was to say that they played a full show off their schedule as opening act for Paramore, and they wanted to show their appreciation with something special, Kele said.

And so for the first song of their encore, Bloc Party launched into “Blue,” a new song never before performed live! Kele began the song in hushed tones before the beat dropped after about a minute and a half, and the band rumbled into their hallmark catchy post-punk rhythms.

Bloc Party’s return to DC — they last filled The Anthem in 2019 — came a detour from Paramore’s This Is Why Tour, which actually brings Bloc Party back again to DC on Friday, June 2, for a very big concert at Capital One Arena. This fortunate crowd, however, got a straight dose of Bloc Party’s pleasing indie rock vibes in the more intimate 9:30 Club on May 27.

And we actually were anticipating some new gems, as Bloc Party released a new album, Alpha Games, last year, giving them fresh material to play since their last visit. The 18-song setlist offered five songs from Alpha Games, and the audience grooved right along to the new crop of tunes. Bloc Party opened the show with “In Situ” and “You Should Know the Truth” from Alpha Games, and the people embraced the songs quickly. At the midpoint of the show, Bloc Party added Alpha Games’ thrilling banger “Traps” to the set.

Watch the official music video for “Traps” by Bloc Party on YouTube:

And speaking of music from 2023, Bloc Party also performed “High Life,” a new single that we believe will appear on an upcoming record with “Blue.” But as great as it was to hear the band’s new songs live, Bloc Party’s first two albums — Silent Alarm (2005) and A Weekend in the City (2007) — truly remained the stars of the show. Early in the set, Kele led his band in a performance of “Hunting for Witches” from A Weekend in the City, and you could really feel the anticipation in the crowd, which was eager for the songs to which they could sing along by heart. Those expectations were more than fulfilled in the middle of the show, immediately after “High Life,” when Bloc Party played A Weekend’s “Song for Clay (Disappear Here)” — the Bret Easton Ellis-inspired ode to “feeling nothing” — and its lines “Live the dream, live the dream, live the dream/ Like the 80’s never happened/ People are afraid, are afraid.”

But that was nothing compared to the triumph of “Banquet,” one of the greatest post-punk songs of the 21st century, and the sheer brilliance of that debut record, Silent Alarm. The coming of age anthem united the 9:30 Club audience as one with its refrain: “Turning away from the light, becoming adult/ Turning into myself,” and everyone indeed sang along heartily.

Watch the official music video for “Banquet” by Bloc Party on YouTube:

The glorious encore began with the aforementioned new song “Blue” before continuing to dive into those first and second albums. The crowd roared along to “Helicopter” and its cautionary outlook — “Six out of ten, better luck next time!” Bloc Party wrapped with Weekend’s “Flux” and Silent Alarm’s “Like Eating Glass.”

Guitarist Russell Lissack was a force to be reckoned with throughout the show, during through the songs from stage right. Having founded the band with Kele in 1999, Russell was assuredly a grounding presence on stage, and his signature sound was a building block of every Bloc Party song. Bloc Party’s newer members haven’t been to DC *too* often. Bassist Justin Harris and drummer Louise Bartle both joined the band in 2015. Louise was positively beaming as she boomed through the beats and sang backing vocals. She was terrific, and her attitude brightened the stage while her precision fortified the songs.

We have the rare opportunity to see Bloc Party again right away, as they open Paramore at Capital One Arena on Friday, June 2! And with a new album already in the works, perhaps we will see a full headlining tour from this very vital quartet as early as next year.

Meanwhile, catch Bloc Party opening for Paramore!

Here are some photos of Bloc Party performing at 9:30 Club on May 27, 2023. All pictures by Mickey McCarter.



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