Bloc Party at the Albert Hall in Manchester – 08/02/17
Written by Jake Sayer.
Having seen the new Bloc Party rise like the Phoenix last year, we decided that this – the first night of their new tour – would be the best time to truly see who the second coming of Kele Okereke’s seminal group truly are. So we headed to the Albert Hall in Manchester curious, imbued with expectation and excitement…
Here at Supajam we’re big fans of discovering new and upcoming bands, and let us tell you, HAARM are a band that you simply shouldn’t miss. Opener ‘Valentine’ jolted and thumped, paving the way for an electronically-focused set. Then came ‘How Long?’, where their harmonies were able to glisten, somewhat similar to the non-plussed the XX. If one wants a taste of HAARM at their finest, they would do no wrong to listen to ‘Foxglove’, available on YouTube or Soundcloud now. As the set came to its end, the band showed they weren’t only endowed as a musical figure, but are also refreshingly down to earth, taking a photo and making a quip about how they don’t often get to play in front of crowds as big as the ones Bloc Party draw. We hope here at Supajam that this is merely a premonition to a bright future for the group.
After what seemed like an eternity, the pièce de résistance took to the stage and opened with ‘Only He Can Heal Me’ from their latest album Hymns. A surprisingly tame opening, they soon set the tone with a raucous version of ‘She’s Hearing Voices’ to which the crowd immediately went wild; bouncing up and down singing “red pill, blue pill” as the respective colours flashed around the room. With the crowd on the edge of cardiac arrest, bassist Justin Harris pulled out a baritone saxophone from out of nowhere and they amped up the energy once again with ‘Mercury’. The pace then temporarily settled as we were serenaded with the deceivingly lullaby-esque opening of ‘Song for Clay (Disappear Here)’ before Louise Bartle brought an end to the piece and spilt into the iconic drum opening of ‘Banquet’, signalling more of a frenzy.
A year on from last seeing the group, they feel much more together. More organic. Frontman Kele Okereke typifies this, making a joke before playing ‘Love Within’ that if there’s one thing he knows about Manchester, it’s that ‘they like to get high’. With stalwart songs like ‘The Prayer’, ‘Helicopter’ and ‘Ratchet’ coming next, they delivered a set of relentless quality. The group seem to have a better idea of who they are, and who their audience are, emphasised by their latest song ‘Stunt Queen’ feeling more reminiscent of their earlier sound.
The opening Manchester performance of their new tour, this is a show you simply can’t miss. Bloc Party at perhaps their finest.