28th June | Harbourside
Photos: Michael Brumby
“My daughter told me I’m too old to be seeing Bloc Party,” exclaimed the wide-grinning Bristolian man I befriended during undoubtedly one of the finest gigs I’ve attended this year. The audience could expect from it what they would, varied as they were in age, but together they stood before Bloc Party in collective awe of the journey they were about to be taken on.
What has generally struck me over the years about Bloc Party’s lyrical composition is their ability to passionately depict a state of mind, the crux of which could be centred around joy, sadness or love. The Amphitheatre was the perfect setting for revisiting the Londoners’ quintessential album, Silent Alarm; their appearance was marking this year’s edition of the Bristol Sounds which has already seen the likes of Tom Misch and the Cat Empire.
Frontman Kele Orekere oozed confidence and bravado as he tore into the song ‘Price of Gas’, generating feverish movement at the front of the crowd. His pacing along the stage was mirrored by a small section of revellers, swaying from side to side as the general crowd slowly got into gear. Queue the ante being upped: ‘She’s Hearing Voices’ was hauntingly uttered from Orekere as he depicted the plight of a paranoid schizophrenic friend from earlier in his life.
The lights on stage chaotically flitted between red and blue, reflecting the lyrics of, “red pill blue pill” – an allusion to the conundrum faced in cult classic The Matrix. Kele’s ceaseless energy was refreshing to witness, more so after he exlcaimed, “get your fucking hands in the air,” to which the crowd obliged without hesitation and with maximum glee.
Bass guitar kicked in and Kele softly spoke into the microphone and urged coupled-up merrymakers to embrace, “if they [we]re with someone sexy.” This Modern Love’ evoked a different movement and energy from the crowd, hips swaying in a more subdued manner to the songs preceding it.
The final delve into Silent Alarm was made when the riffs of the politically-charged tune ‘Helicopter’ blared out, creating a state of passion and slightly off-lyric recital. When I looked around, I saw different walks of life in unison appreciating the spectacle that was on offer. Bloc Party had entered these people’s lives in varying times, but yet the enjoyment, engagement and happiness could be seen in teen and forty-year-old alike.
The evening culminated in a whirlwind of action as ‘Ratchet’ was performed, the crowd vivaciously jumping up and down with their arms flailing in animation. Part of a compilation of previously unreleased songs (worth checking out) entitled The Nextwave Sessions, its energy, spurred on a flurry of thrown cups of beer, along with your indie gig mainstay mosh pit, brought the curtain down on what was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Interestingly, I remember midway through the concert Kele relaying to the crowd, “Who knew Friday night in Bristol could be so fun?… I knew.” I think myself and over 2000 jubilant revellers would’ve never have questioned that in the presence of such indie royalty.
See the video for ‘Stunt Queen’ here: