I never understood the point of Bloc Party until witnessing this fairly entertaining outdoor performance. I’d hitherto dismissed them as the ultimate Steve Lamacq-endorsed guitar band: hard-working, solid, unexceptional. On record, their post-punk revival, student disco blah does nothing for me. However, after seeing them give their all in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd, suddenly they made sense.
Bloc Party, Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow ***
Bloc Party are an excellent live band. That’s mostly down to singer-guitarist Kele Okereke, an inveterate people-pleaser who continually gets the (bloc) party started. He seems like a nice young man, too, his affable between-song pronouncements amusingly at odds with the intensity of his declamatory performance style.
In terms of stagecraft, Okereke does all the work. The only other focal point was limber-limbed, top-knotted drummer Louise Bartle, who battered her classic bijou kit with anvil precision and flair.
Most of their set consisted of 2005 debut album Silent Alarm played in its entirety, albeit with the track listing reversed. Hence why, on a dour, damp, overcast evening in Kelvingrove Park they opened with album-closer Compliments, a dour, damp, overcast dirge. Fortunately, after this inauspicious start, the energy levels spiked with the frantic Luno and never let up.
Highlights included the Lydon-esque Price of Gasoline and the singalong-inducing hits Pioneers and Banquet.
The momentum did dip slightly when, due to technical problems, the band had to leave the stage for a few minutes towards the end of their set. Then the heavens opened. Nevertheless, pros that they are, they came back with a fiery encore climaxing with the heavy-riffing art-funk of Ratchet.
Bloc Party’s connection with their fans lends this grey, characterless music some sort of human meaning. I get it now. Skilfully elevated mediocrity. Paul Whitelaw