If the delights of last summer seems a world away to you, imagine what
it must feel like for [a]Bloc Party[/a]. After all, it was only eight months
ago that the smart art-pop gang were playing rooftop warehouse parties in
east London on a stage the size of a rug, and festival tents during
breakfast. Since then they’ve become [a]NME[/a] cover stars, seen their
debut album go gold and inspired more haircuts than Jennifer Aniston.
Tomorrow they’re off to the US to do us proud Stateside, but
before they go there’s the small matter of tonight’s lap-of-honour
homecoming show at London’s formidable Forum. And, of course,
a right royal piss-up in Camden Town.
8pm ‘Attention! Fashion victims!’ Trekking through the
snow-slush, we enter The Forum to see a snake of people queuing up to
have their picture taken for a fashion magazine. Inside Kele Okereke
is beating himself with a hair shirt in horror.
8.02pm Actually, all we find is London four-piece
Battle playing dark-indie pop pitched somewhere between The
Cure and The Killers.
8.35pm Electro NYC band Chromeo enter, one with a
big crocodile smile, the other in red and black top hat and tails, looking a
bit like a fat Jack White gone wrong.
8.47pm They play new single ‘Rage’. It’s Daft Punk
meets Prince meets ridiculous chants of “We say ‘Chromie’, you
say ‘Oh!’”. They really are the new Har Mar.
8.48pm “CHROME-O! CHROME-O!” etc.
9.38pm Where the hell are [a]Bloc Party[/a]?
9.40pm “Hello. We’re called [a]Bloc Party[/a]”. Hands go
up in the air and there’s an enormous cheer as the band launch into ‘Like
9.43pm From the thunderous ‘Banquet’ to the shy
nonchalance of ‘This Modern Love’ (“Do you wanna come over and
kill some time?”) a thousand hearts burst all over the room.
10.12pm During an euphoric ‘She’s Hearing Voices’, the
paranoia and alienation in the song is totally offset by the warmth in the
room. Everyone is singing and Kele is throwing some dance moves. The
crowd reciprocates by throwing some chocolate at him during
10. 40pm After a jubilant encore that races from the swooning
‘So Here We Are’ to the politically charged ‘Price Of Gas’
it’s over. Drummer Matt, unable to come to terms with the news,
stage-dives into the crowd.
10.41pm It suddenly dawns on everyone in the room that they have
just witnessed the exact moment [a]Bloc Party[/a] transformed from an indie
band with great songs into fully-formed rock goliaths.
11.15pm Backstage, Kele is trying to articulate how much
he enjoyed the show with typical humility. “It was nice,” he laughs
at himself. “People knowing what all the songs were made a massive
difference, you could hear them all singing the words over the music.”
11.20pm Bassist Gordon pours champagne into plastic pint
cups, while drummer Matt wonders if any of the Mystery Jets
will get up and breakdance at the aftershow. “Two of them are almost
professional standard breakdancers. I’m not going to say who, but it’s not
11.45pm It’s off to the Barfly in Camden where
Russell and Matt are due to spin some records under their DJ
moniker Kings Of Boyz (a sly dig at the Queens Of Noize with
whom they’re currently waging a bit of a handbag war after Mairead
slagged them off on telly).
12am The queue is awash with newly-trimmed Bloc Heads and girls
desperate for a peek of Russell.
12.15am Crammed into the Barfly, Chromeo are
playing a second set upstairs, while we’re downstairs spotting indie celebs
like… Terry Hall from The Specials and, er, some bloke from
1.15am Upstairs and the Mystery Jets are on. “The Dad”
(guitarist Henry Harrison) is definitely not doing any dancing,
although singer/drummer Blaine’s Sideshow Bob red Afro is
bobbing along ten-to-the-dozen. It’s still not too distracting to notice the
sheer weirdness of the band’s set – a prog-space-rock cake with Flaming
Lips icing with chanting and smiles thrown in for good measure.
1.23am It’s a prog-rock guitar solo!
1.44am It’s ten years later, Will Smith is the first black
President Of The United States, Michael Jackson is finally out of
jail and all the icebergs have melted and flooded Eastern Europe. Mystery
Jets finish their guitar solo.
1.58am Oh look, there’s Johnny Borrell over there.
2am Downstairs Russell and Matt are breaking golden
rule of DJing Number One and playing their own songs. Matt also loses
more points for fashioning a green vest out of a [a]Bloc Party[/a] T-shirt.
2.05am Now he’s playing air drums along to his own songs. This is
2.15am Russell swoops in to save the day by dropping in
‘Hounds Of Love’ by former tour buddies The Futureheads. The
’Fly goes wild.
2.30am As the rest of the night blurs into a beer-haze, one fact
remains pretty clear: dancing with fans at free-for-all aftershow parties is
sadly about to become a thing of the past for this friendly band. After
tonight’s triumphant events, [a]Bloc Party[/a] are right on the verge of
becoming untouchably stellar.