Live Review: Bloc Party

Band pull out all the stops at what may prove to be their final ever gig. Bournemouth International Centre, Bournemouth, Saturday, October 31

On first glance, it seemed these was the last rites for Bloc Party. Interview innuendos suggested tonight would mark their finale, or, at the very least, the severing of ties with disgruntled drummer Matt Tong. Yet as they cannon out defiant opening volley ‘One Month Off’, at least for this evening, the only living dead are assembled fans sporting ghoulish Halloween attire.

The fancy dress doesn’t extend onstage, aside from Matt’s Bournemouth football shirt, commemorating his hometown return. Indeed, Kele Okereke is more immediately concerned with soldiering through ’flu, grinning bullishly that “mama Okereke didn’t raise a quitter”. If this is the end, nobody could accuse either of creaking into retirement like weary journeymen fit for Matt’s beloved lower league soccer side.
The spine-tingling refrains of ‘Positive Tension’ lend the first ‘Silent Alarm’-shaped memory-jog, the album’s original wide-eyed exuberance fleshed out just as Kele has bulked up in the interim. The introspective extremes of ‘A Weekend In The City’ are represented by the triple dose of ‘Where Is Home?, ‘Hunting For Witches’ and ‘Song For Clay (Disappear Here)’, while third album ‘Intimacy’ is also aired, though ‘Trojan Horse’ transforms its gauche lyricisms into lung-filling euphoria.

A brace of encores are the true telling of the tale, though. All four re-emerge in (sort of) scary garb, Kele confirming – while dressed as, er, a banana – that this is indeed “our final show for the foreseeable future”. ‘Flux’ revs up before a monumental rendition of ‘Helicopter’, and with that, Bloc Party take a final bow and the lights go up. But that’s not quite it: as hundreds file out, the band swiftly return for “the song that started it all off”, ‘She’s Hearing Voices’, as a collection of cadaverously costumed roadies scramble onstage. Kele vanishes into his disciples, and Matt is last to leave the stage, imploring us all to “keep the faith”. Whether tonight is revealed as a full stop or comma in their story (the subsequent revelation that Kele’s working on a solo album adds to the uncertainty), it’s equal parts exhilarating and poignant; fittingly, the very juxtaposition that has made Bloc Party so essential these past five years.

Adam Kennedy

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