Kele striking a pose in a straw hat and cracking jokes about bowels. Glasgow (January 26)
Something funny happened to Bloc Party around the release of ‘A Weekend In The City’ in 2007: they became insufferable bores. With debut album ‘Silent Alarm’ they rode the post-Franz wave of angular post-punk into new and exciting territory; by the time of its follow-up, however, they’d dulled that edge with terminal, weight-of-the-world glumness.
It wasn’t their famously reticent approach to being interviewed, either, it was the heavy-handedness with which they set out to dispassionately document ‘modern life’ through a series of oblique, joyless songs, summed up in one-word titles that could’ve meant anything but really, one suspected, meant nothing. It might have been the most culturally relevant album released this century, but you had to be willing to take Kele’s word for it.
Then ‘Intimacy’ happened; released online and under the radar at about 20 minutes’ notice, they sounded emboldened and fearless once again. Tonight’s opener, ‘One Month Off’, is indicative of that – its riff sounds ferocious, bubbling over with vibrancy and immediacy.
Live, of course, Bloc Party have always been a force to be reckoned with. When faced with the choppy, limb-jerking rhythms of ‘Banquet’ or the saucer-eyed beauty of ‘This Modern Love’ in a room of writhing bodies, it’s easy to get lost in the joyous chemical buzz of it all, cerebral subtext be damned. But even lesser songs such as ‘Hunting For Witches’, with a wirey riff that’s too obviously Bloc Party and lyrical groan-inducers like “Kill your middle class indecision/Now is not the time for liberal thought”, sound less like something to furrow your brow to and more like something you could dance to.
The vibe is generally more light-hearted, too. After a hypnotic ‘Two More Years’, Kele strikes a pose in a straw hat that someone’s thrown onstage and asks the audience, “Do you think I look like one of The Kooks?” Later, he rambles (perhaps too) candidly about his cartwheeling bowels and how the adulation of the Glaswegian crowd has cured them.
Thankfully, however, the evening doesn’t end on that note, but on one of mass communal euphoria as ‘The Prayer’ thunders into life. Souls bared and arms aloft, it’s Bloc Party at their best and most human, bereft of clever-clever lyrics and unafraid to embrace the inner anthem. Tonight represents conclusive proof that Bloc Party have got their groove back; hopefully this time they can enjoy it a little bit more.