Live Review: Bloc Party

BLOC PARTY – 9/11 – O2 ABC

At their first live gig in two years, Bloc Party are ready to get playing again.  Following a strange and slightly embittered warm-up from Chris Moyles and colleagues, the crowd are restless and ready to relive their indie youth.

 The band are restless too, bounding on stage to slip into ‘Eden’, one of three released tracks from new album Hymns.  Despite feeling a little shaky they quickly get into their stride, seeming to feed off Kele Okereke’s growing enjoyment.  From here they easily step into some old classics, giving energy to the crowd.

Throughout the show this transfer of energy seems to occur between band and audience.  At times, though, it means the audience’s love for the big hits isn’t matched by the band and their old material begins to feel overplayed.

As with any band on a comeback it’s hard to strike a balance between old and new: the musicians are desperate for some new material; the crowd just want to mosh to old favourites.  Bloc Party seem aware of the need to get the crowd on their side through playing older tracks, in order to then show off some of their newest creations.

Their resulting boredom is perhaps even to be expected since most of their hits are now ten years old.  But perhaps it’s also because most of their performance was very similar to their recordings.  With only half the original lineup it makes sense that both Justin Harris and Louise Bartle, the newest members, are still learning the ropes, but it was a shame to see them shy away from experimentation.

Their enthusiasm meant the new material shone, particularly synthy single ‘The Love Within’. Hearing it live allowed Okereke’s DJing influences to come out and get everyone dancing.  Even with this added energy though, it’s hard to escape that their new material, ‘The Love Within’ in particular, lacks the depth of their early releases.  It will be exciting to watch Bloc Party as they re-emerge, but hopefully they won’t forget the power of their early work.

[Halina Romaniszyn]

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