Bloc Party live at the Albert Hall, Manchester
By Jake Sayer.
So here we are at the dawn of a new day for Bloc Party. Is it a cynical move motivated by money? Or is the lineup shuffle making the most of an opportunity to become more adventurous and to create remarkable pieces of art? We can't be completely sure, but one thing is for sure: by the end of tonight, we'll know a lot more about their forthcoming fifth album, Hymns.
Opener ‘Eden’ enthrals, but soon we're into unchartered territory. The new pieces from Hymns seem to match the show's ambience due to the stage being positioned directly under a huge wall mounted organ which Okereke quipped about. Although the songs are enjoyable and familiar with a strong rhythmical emphasis on drums and bass, this a slow starter. They remedy this by dipping into older material systematically to appease an eager crowd. Being a super-fan, I arrived early to secure a front row position, but I'm still feeling like I've been through twelve rounds with Ronda Rousey.
After a few more songs, it is very clear that the new line-up is not a cynical decision. Bartle was incredible on the drums, nailing notoriously tricky drum sections such as the intro to ‘Banquet’, whilst Harris switches between bass and piano for songs like ‘One More Chance’ and ‘Flux’. With regards to the new music however, we can’t give the same beaming review we gave the new members. Whilst ‘The Good News’ and its Southern American sounding guitar riffs and prominent drums enthralled, songs like ‘Exes’ and ‘Different Drugs’ are sombre and don't stick about in your consciousness.
It's still pieces like ‘Helicopter’ that are sending the crowd into a frenzy. And, with Okereke saying they don’t usually do second encores but can't resist in this instance, they're clearly enjoying themselves, which is the most important thing, after all.
Bloc Party are touring the UK, headlining the NME Awards Tour from the 29th of November. If their future concerts are anything like this one was then you’d be a fool not to go. It’s good to have you back, Bloc Party. We’ve missed you!