LIVE: Bloc Party @ Victoria Hall, Stoke (14/10/2009)

Date: October 14th, 2009
Venue: Victoria Hall, Stoke-on-Trent
Support: Grammatics


Since the release of their third full-length ‘Intimacy’, Bloc Party have been touching more on the softer side of electro and dance, and feeding it into their soft indie rock style. Their latest endeavour ‘One More Chance’ is just a another product of such direction, and so the official and cleverly titled Bloctober tour sees the four-piece hitting many areas of the UK to end 2009 with a good bang.

The tour’s single support act Grammatics (***) are somewhat similar to a hybridation of Foals, Patrick Wolf, and somewhat elements of The Smiths, except an arguably less cocky version of each of these and all three combined. Though audience participation is weak and rarely shown, Grammatics do no wrong in their delivery. Songs like ‘Murderer’ and current single ‘Double Negative’ show a band in their developing foundation stage, but with much potential and success ahead of them if they pave it correctly. The asks for the crowds to join in with clapping and singing along for the most part go ignored or attempted feebly, but the effort from the band is there.

Smoke fills the stage before London’s indie kings Bloc Party (*****) appear, and before the members even pick up their instruments the crowd is already surging. The newer and more dance and electro tinged material like ‘Mercury’ and ‘One Month Off’ incites huge pits of pushing fans dancing like their lives were on the line, with the ground floor and two upper seated tiers singing just as strongly as they do during older numbers like ‘Banquet’ and ‘Waiting For The 7.18’. Not only is the band’s set as tight as a gnat’s arse with plenty of stage activity, with frontman Kele Okereke at one point dipping the microphone with the stand into the crowd like it was a fishing rod, but it seems like Bloc Party are having as much fun – if not more – than the crowd before them. A bit of comedic banter shoved in here and there adds for good measure too, with Kele asking “What was the score with the football today? Ahh, sorry… I can’t even pretend to be interested in football” welcomed by laughter and cheers. “This is one of our first good songs we wrote” is the statement which opens ‘Positive Tension’, a song which sees a remarkable action by Kele climbing atop the side speakers and climbing to the first upper tier, where he walks past many excited and latching fans seeing him disappear from sight for a good few minutes. He soon returns back with a venue employee’s waistcoat, and thanking him once returning back to the stage. Closer ‘Helicopter’ sees the sea of Stoke fans give it their all in one last ago before their admirees onstage, with a constant flow of crowd surfers from start to finish. It seems only fitting that the single that shot them into the spotlight should be the one to close a set that sees Bloc Party at their strongest they’ve been in since they formed back in 2003.

Written by Zach Redrup