LIVE REVIEW: Bloc Party @ Castlefield Bowl, Manchester (05/07/2019)

Credit: Promo

Date: July 5th, 2019
Venue: Castlefield Bowl, Manchester
Support: Lazy Day


15 years ago, we saw the release of ‘Silent Alarm’, the full-length debut album from then fresh faced indie rockers, Bloc Party.

Bursting out into the mainstream during the peak of indie rock, when the likes of Kaiser Chiefs, The Cribs, Razorlight, The Kooks, and everyone in-between were rising into the face of the mainstream, Bloc Party were a breath of fresh air amongst their sea of contemporaries, and their debut effort was equally beautiful, frail, and passionate.

Now a decade and a half later, the band are out celebrating the milestone amongst their fans, looking back on the record and its offerings by performing it in full. The Manchester stop of the run is held at the Castlefield Bowl amphitheater, and resonates the care-free summer vibes in which the record thrived in back in 2005.

Standing in as the sole support act for the evening, Lazy Day [6] are a band who definitely favour the delivery of their harmonies than they do a forceful instrumental impact. The dreamy guitar work of Liam Hoflay and front woman Tilly Scantlebury is rather ethereal, and songs like ‘Hiccup’ sound like they’re floating on a cloud.

It’s all very frail and delicate for the most part, though there’s definitely a need for a bit more energy and increased tempo here and there to add some exhilaration and some more pep to the set.

Stripped of any pomp and frills you’d expect from an album anniversary show, Bloc Party [8] instead opt to allow the music to do the majority of the talking, and when you’re working with an album that’s as acclaimed and adored as ‘Silent Alarm’, that’s all that you really need.

Keeping fans on their toes, and undoubtedly to ensure things aren’t stale for themselves too, the band refuse to play the record from front-to-back, and rather unexpectedly kick things off with album closer, ‘Compliments’ and work their way backwards from there.

It’s a gentle start, admittedly, and following number ‘Plans’ keeps the rather tepid tempo intact a little while longer, but we’re soon led into ‘Luno’ via its chunky opening bass riff thanks to Justin Harris.

Fleshed out as an entire body and completely live, it’s completely apparent (if wasn’t already) how ahead of the curve ‘Silent Alarm’ was against its contemporaries at the time. Louise Bartle‘s skills behind the kit can’t be ignored even if you tried, especially during ‘Like Eating Glass’ and the aforementioned ‘Luno’, Russell Lissack‘s jarring guitar solo in ‘She’s Hearing Voices’ is a definite highlight, and Kele Okereke‘s voice is arguably at a career best when exposed in ‘So Here We Are’.

‘Blue Light’ brings some additional flair with the blasts of some stage cannons raining confetti all over the crowd, and singles ‘Helicopter’ and ‘Banquet’ act as a mental time capsule all the way back to when they were first dominating the airwaves of radio stations up and down the country in 2005.

With ‘Silent Alarm’ capped off completely, Bloc Party use their encore to showcase a few more cuts in their discography, and surprisingly avoid almost everything they’ve released in the past decade, save for set closer ‘Ratchet’. ‘Two More Years’ offers another moment for the crowd to sing over the band, ‘Little Thoughts’ comes out from way back in their vault, and both ‘The Prayer’ and ‘Flux’ still sound larger than life.

Sure, Bloc Party may no longer be the forerunners of indie rock as we know it today, but ‘Silent Alarm’ is a record that has evidently retained itself as a timeless classic, and could stand toe-to-toe with anything that the current generation of acts in that genre could pump out.