An evening of angular pleasures...
It’s a common trait among great frontmen that they transform onstage. Shy James Jewel Osterberg becomes roaring, self-destructive beast Iggy Pop, nerdy Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV becomes murderous, Spanish-screaming weirdo Black Francis. And Liam G goes from boorish show-off to… well, you get the idea.
Before the show, Kele Bloc Party is the classic shy indie boy, eminently huggable but somehow out of reach. Onstage he’s
a tensed-up ball of magnetism, lending their spindly art-rock an energy and focus that
the glorious tunes deserve – particularly
on the desperate edge of ‘Like Eating Glass’.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. This
is an evening of three smart bands that’s confirmation that Franz’s coup d’état (d’art?) is complete. Dumb rock’s name’s not down and it’s not coming in. Probably ‘cos it can’t spell. Frankly, if the supports were any artier they’d be wearing smocks and cutting off their ears. In the case of much of the flat Joy Division meets Cooper Temple Clause stylings of Komakino it appears they’ve done the latter. It’s left to ‘Explosions In Her Eyes’ and ‘Tripwire’, both bulging with potential like cheeky over-full wraps, to save their day.
In contrast, the chav-punk-meets art-rock rhetoric of The Rakes (they’re calling it
pre-post-punk, prefix fans) boasts much snotty finery and a tremendous sideswipe at dullard city boys in ’22 Grand Job’. It may amount to no more than the aural equivalent of standing outside a cash machine flicking the Vs, but spite feels good. They succeed in beguiling half the audience and winding up the rest.
Bloc Party have always had the potential to be everyone’s third-favourite band, but tonight they’re just, well, stars. ‘Banquet’ casts aside the subtlety of its recorded incarnation to prance about going ‘look at me I’m incredible’, while ‘She’s Hearing Voices’ has become
a sinister juggernaut. Art-rock seems too limited a word to describe this transformation. The last time something like this happened was when Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV decided he’d name himself after his favourite colour…