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Bloc Party live at The Olympia
As it happens, there is a good deal more substance to Kele Okereke and co than the average flash-in-the-pan indie outfit, and throughout 2005 their standing has grown and grown, to the point that they are now able to perform with considerable confidence and poise before a sold-out Olympia audience.
Paul Nolan, 17 Nov 2005
Good grief, how 12 (alright, 10 and a half) months have flown by. It seems like only last week that Bloc Party were playing to a jammed Whelan’s, having found themselves selected as flavour of the month by the music press. As it happens, there is a good deal more substance to Kele Okereke and co than the average flash-in-the-pan indie outfit, and throughout 2005 their standing has grown and grown, to the point that they are now able to perform with considerable confidence and poise before a sold-out Olympia audience.
Okereke’s good-humoured between-song badinage is a particularly potent weapon, placing him closer in the rock-star firmament to the laid-back blokiness of, say, Parklife-era Damon Albarn than the austere intensity of contemporaries like Paul Banks. Not that he neglects to channel his angst into Bloc Party’s emotionally charged songs, mind.
The scintillating early takes on ‘Positive Tension’ (the rumbling opening bass line of which sounds like it’s being beamed direct from George Clinton’s mothership) and ‘Banquet’ whip the crowd into a frenzy, before a delicate rendition of ‘Blue Light’ demonstrates that there’s considerably more to their range than thumping punk-funk work-outs.
The real standout moment, though, arrives with the absolutely brilliant ‘Like Eating Glass’ – one of the finest songs of the year and eminently deserving of the extended cheers that follow its performance. Two more recent songs are given an airing in the encore (as is the bra an excitable female fan aims in Okereke’s direction when the group arrive back onstage), which offer intriguing hints at possible future directions. ‘Two More Years’, released to coincide with the band’s recent British tour, is a superb singalong indie anthem, while the more Cur(e)ious rhythms of ‘The Present’, from the Warchild album, betray Bloc Party’s infatuation with Joy Division-style atmospherics.
Whether they’re happy remaining a cult phenomenon or fancy a crack at Franz-style crossover hugeness is a dilemma Bloc Party will undoubtedly have to address at some future juncture. For now – to paraphrase Stewie Griffin – victory is theirs.