Rock City, Nottingham, 2/2/2016
published: 27 /
Dave Goodwin finds Rock City in Nottingham is the latest venue to witness Bloc Party back to their best, who were headlining the latest 'NME' tour
I remember being at the Wulfrun Hall in Wolverhampton when 'Intimacy' had just been released. As I stood upstairs on the balcony, this chap started talking to me and said he'd not seen Bloc Party before but they were probably THE best guitar band around at that time. I had to agree with him, mainly because I loved everything they did.
Then they went all clubby and sort of techno on me and I drifted away from them a little. I don't mind a bit of dance stuff, to be fair, and I just adore old school House but it wasn't what I was expecting from Bloc Party and just wasn't my cup of tea. Then I heard on the grapevine that, with a new rhythm section having joined Kele Okereke and lead guitarist Russel Lissack, they were releasing a new album and that it was like the Bloc Party of old, so after viewing the video to 'The Love Within', I got quite excited.
The last time I saw Bloc Party was at the amazing KOKO in Camden, London and it was one of the best gigs I've been to. Here at Rock City the sense of anticipation before they graced the roomy stage was very similar. This night was part of the annual NME awards tour and, even with three other bands on before, they were still keeping to an eleven o'clock curfew. The downstairs of the venue was now nearly full.
Kicking off with two tracks from 'Hymns' ('The Good News' and 'Only He Can Heal Me'), Kele and the crew seemed a happy with the reception for these new songs before taking the adoring fans back to their techno phase with 'Mercury'. Returning to the new album, 'Virtue' got a welcomed airing and then Bloc Party took us further back to the their second album 'A Weekend in the City' with 'Song for Clay (Disappear Here)'. The favourites kept on coming and Bloc Party, while sounding just like they always have, seemed to have a little more to show as the songs were subjected to Lissack's exquisitely tamperings. Early hit 'Banquet' and non-album 2009 single 'One More Chance' followed before we returned to 'Hymns' with 'Different Drugs'. They kept mixing it up through their back catalogue, playing 'Hunting for Witches', 'Positive Tension' and then 'Octopus', before going back to the new stuff with a great rendition of 'The Love Within' to finish the set off.
Coming back on stage for an encore, they were in danger of missing the curfew, but no-one seemed remotely bothered as they eased into another new song ('My True Name') and then two old favourites ('Helicopter' and 'This Modern Love') and almost as if to prove a point, they finished with the crowd going mental for 'Ratchet'.
Well? What do I think? I love Bloc Party and always have. No, I'm not a great fan of the clubby stuff, but this new album has got me and the fact that they are still one of the best live guitar bands around gets the thumbs up. The new line up works and they all seem tight and having fun, so it's all gravy. Marvellous!
Photos by Dave Goodwin