Bloc Party – Rolling back the years at a sold out den Atelier

Sunday night saw the return of one of the seminal indie bands of the 2000s, with Bloc Party taking to a sold out den Atelier.

It has been a turbulent few years for the band who have lost founding members, Gordon Moakes on bass and Matt Tong on drums, replacing them with Justin Harris and Louise Bartle. With the new lineup came a new sound for the ever evolving band. Their recent album “Hymns” has split opinion with critics and fans alike as they moved further from their energetic angst to a more somber, haunting sound.

Unfortunately for the band it was a somewhat stumbling start, as a technical glitch led to two failed attempts of “Only He Can Heal Me”, so instead of a third attempt they moved on looking a bit sheepish, with frontman Kele joking that “someone will be getting sacked for this hiccup”.

They continued with some technical issues with Kele’s vocals being lost and muddied by a bass that seemed to have been turned up to 11 on “Virtue”, all of this gave the gig a bit of a stuttering start.

It wasn’t until the unleashing of “Banquet” that they really found their stride. After all these years it still holds the ferocity and beauty it held on its first airing and with that it felt like the show really began. “Hunting for Witches” followed soon after, reminding us all that when Bloc Party were in their pomp they wrote some of the most exciting electro flexed indie of their time, influencing a plethora of bands as they went.

Unlike many of their peers, Bloc Party have always looked to evolve their sound on each record, which has proved divisive for some. For their sombre more introspective tracks like “Different Drugs” we saw Kele have a seat and take to the keys as they took it down a notch.

Although “Hymns” is a more restrained album there is still some space for the club escapism of “The Love Within” which translated better live than on record but still the jury is out on this one, especially when played next to “positive Tension”, which epitomises the urgency of early days Bloc party.

For the encore they decided it was take three for “Only He Can Heal Me” and this time there was no issue and a visibly delighted Kele declared “I’m happy we finally got it right”. The extended encore was far more upbeat, leaning heavily on the first few albums with “Rachet” & “Flux” before going onto one of the indie tracks of the decade with “Helicopter” then finishing on “This Modern Love”.

With the obvious distinction between their earlier work, it will be interesting to see how their fans follow them through these years of upheaval and discovery. On last night’s showing there is still a huge amount of affection for the band but how long will that last whilst they find their feet once more.

17.04.16 – den Atelier

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