I received a phone call on Thursday, it was from Q magazine (no it wasn’t them asking for an interview with the world’s greatest blogger/YouTube Celeb/generally cool guy) they were in fact calling to tell me that I was the winner of two tickets to see Bloc Party on Tuesday evening at The Forum for their Q Awards: The Gigs with Russian Standard Vodka. I didn’t even remember entering this competition! I never win competitions! Except for last time when I won tickets to see Feeder.
Tuesday morning came and went, it wasn’t until about 1:00 that I realised I had completely forgotten about this gig, until Ivan reminded me. I realised that I should probably call someone and ask them to go with me. Sam actually picked up his phone and agreed gleefully to come. It was going to be an exciting evening.
I promptly arrived at the station ten minutes early (as always) and tried my best to actually find the venue. I asked the lady giving out free London Lites for directions, but was answered by a tall looking chap who when I turned round realised it was Freddie, an old school friend. He was with the drummer from support band Esser. I said “Oh hi, errm…what’s your band called again? Oh yeah…err…I heard that song…yeah…heard it on Radio 1…yeah errm…s’good”
When Sam arrived we made our way there, and cued up in various different places happily soaking in the drizzle. Eventually we found out that our form of entrance was to be the ‘stage doors’. After more waiting around with the four other competition winners, we were finally escorted in. Sadly my high hopes of receiving a back stage pass along with the tickets were destroyed, and we made our way to the already buzzing dance floor.
After waiting around for another hour, support act Esser stumble onto the stage. I don’t really know how to describe them. A bit like the Kaiser Chiefs with no charm or wit. There was a bit of blues chucked in, add a bit of The Specials but without the brains. They made a great sound but it was nothing new and I would never download their songs, free or not.
At 9:15 some woman from Q radio appears on stage. She tells us that Keane were here yesterday, and is replied by a choir of ‘boos’. To which she encourages us to make far more noise than the Keane fans. Which we did. (But I don’t mind Keane!)
Bloc Party stroll on stage, and everyone makes a sudden rush to the front. I went from being around the middle, to four rows from the very front. Whereas this was something of a spectacle, I had forgotten how painfully annoying it was to be as close as one possibly could get to hundreds of sweaty music fans.
The first song they played was Halo, from the new album. I appreciate the song a lot more from hearing it live. Hunting for Witches was brilliant, as was Positive Tension. Then came two more noobs, Talons and Signs. Song For Clay, Banquet and one of my favourites from Intimacy — Better Than Heaven. Mercury and This Modern Love were also fantastic. These were the first few songs that they played when I was at the very front. I found myself longing for a quiet song just so that I could actually breathe. I began to ask myself, did I ever find the whole cramped sweaty thing enjoyable? Does anyone?
They played The Prayer, what a track! I decided to bust my way further back, and found myself in a place where I could actually move my arms and dance freely. I began to enjoy it a lot more. So Here We Are was fantastic, an apparent ‘quiet track’ but it has an inescapable groove to it. They played Like Eating Glass before going off. I was a lot happier not being at the front. I wasn’t one of those people who just wanted to touch Kele.
The encore… war-anthem Ares, was actually amazen.
One slight annoyance came from a little girl standing behind us who seemed to find the need to pinch my lower back repeatedly. ‘Whatever floats your boat.’
What a great track Price Of Gas is! All the more politically relevant than it was even back in 2005, and it once again possesses that irresistible pulsing groove. They played Flux followed finally by everyone’s favourite anthem– Helicopter. I enjoyed the first two thirds of this track until I was headbutted in the face by some cretin in a polo shirt. There’s always a particular strain of Bloc Party fans, they are body building, sweaty, obnoxious oafs with gel in their hair. They somehow get joy out of punching each other and various innocent members of the public. I guess it’s the only opportunity they get to let out their emotions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for moshing– it’s just not what I go to the gig for. I go to see a band play so that I can enjoy their music, not so that I can get my skull dented by imbeciles in string vests. *Sigh*
Anyway. During the pre-concert build up, Sam and I had discussed what our most preferred Bloc Party song was. After mentioning the obvious classics, I mentioned that I loved the track Skeleton. Very few people know it, as it is a rare track. I downloaded it during the very early Bloc Party days, when they had the MP3s up on their homepage for free. There seemed to be many die hard fans there, many of them (myself included) when hit with a moment of silence from the band would shout out requests of Skeleton. I gave up after a while, many slightly sadder members of the Bloc fan-base began to chant it at various points throughout the show. Kele soon clocked on, but seemed to not be keen to actually play this unknown gem. They left the stage after Helicopter and the lights and music came back on, people began to make their way to the exit. However just when we thought it was over, they return to the stage! They mention that they had heard a few requests and that they would play whatever people wanted, Kele threw the microphone into the audience, and unanimous shouts were for Skeleton.
I’ve only once heard them play it live. They warned us before they played it, that they hadn’t practiced it for a good while. I really enjoyed that song. I had forgotten how sensationally terrific this song was. The elite Blocheads rocked out joyfully.
How would I rate the gig? Well I would definitely say that every time I see them they get better and better. They didn’t play any songs that I didn’t enjoy listening to, despite the yobs.
Would I recommend seeing them live? Most definitely, the intimate venue also added to the whole experience. (I later found out that tickets were going for £80!) It will be pretty unusual to see them playing such a small place again.
I had a post-gig chat with Sam over some fried chicken, we discussed whether it would be in their interests to rework some tracks for the sake of creating some variety in their live performances. We concluded that they weren’t that sort of band. The main perk of seeing them live is the charisma that they bring to the stage, but not a huge difference in what’s actually on the CD. On the other hand it is clear that the tracks have a different feel to them when played live. What I do know is that Bloc Party will always provide us with something we can dance/sing/chant along to. Then again the tendency they have to bring this out in the audience sometimes ended up drowning out their actual sound output.
Anyway, I don’t think my sixth Bloc Party outing will be my last.