Bloc Party at Southampton Guildhall, 17 October 2012
‘Here we go again’ the crowd thought, as Bloc Party started proceedings with the first song from their latest record. But this band has always done things in its own way, and thankfully the evening was far from the unimaginative ‘new album plod’ many large outfits playing the Guildhall choose to make.
Bloc Party always mix it up and with four albums under their belt, it can be a struggle to place some songs in a specific era of the band’s lifespan. Début LP ‘Silent Alarm’was a more expansive take on the meat and potatoes indie sound that was popular in the mid 2000’s, before synths and dramatic chanting choirs infiltrated the traditional singer – guitarist – bassist – drummer set-up for subsequent albums. A three-year hiatus allowed the four guys to explore these sounds that were clearly pulling them in different directions: front-man Kele Okereke had a top-20 hit with his dance/electronica solo project, while drummer Matt Tong emailed me a link to some Fleetwood Mac covers he’d put together in New York.
That break was important for the band as they appeared fresh on-stage and new album ‘Four’ sees the Bloc wagon get firmly back on track. Packed rooms become incredibly stuffy; it is healthy to open the window for fresh air from time to time. Fresh tunes ‘Real Talk’ and ‘Kettling’ featured Russell Lissack riffs so heavy that I nearly broke ranks to join the pit of teenagers charging around at the front. Nearly.
Synth/dance tracks ‘One More Chance’ and ‘Flux’ popped their heads above water in the first encore. The variation between records means that Bloc Party can take evenings in different directions when they so wish. The group reappeared for a second time to sign off with the first single (if there is such a thing any more from Four, ‘Octopus’, before a blast from the past with 2005’s ‘Helicopter’. This time I couldn’t help myself and charged to the front to shove some people around.