To be lost in a forest
Okay so it’s been a while since I promised I’d post about Bloc Party’s recent concert in Auckland, but I’m hoping it’s a case of better late than never. This was the second time in less than a year that I’d had the privilege of seeing these boys from London take to the stage (the first being at Zurich Open Air last August) and they absolutely delivered second-time around as good as if it was the first. The Powerstation provided a venue of perfect proportions (not too big, not too small, great acoustics) and the crowd was suitably excited. After all, it had been six years since Bloc Party had toured these distant shores.
Bloc Party is one of those bands which I can faithfully return to their albums and enjoy listening to them straight through every time; which I find I discover new layers to the music as I listen each time; which I love to sing along to at the top of my lungs (even if the lyrics sometimes veer into the lame territory); and which stay interesting with every new album release. To top it all off, they are fantastic live in concert, in fact I’d even go so far as to argue that on some tracks, the live performance is much, much better than the studio recording. A Bloc Party concert is positively rambunctious, tempered with moments of melodious soft love-song and anti-establishment irreverence. All in all, a Bloc Party concert makes for a super-memorable fun night out during which it is more likely than not that you’ll dance irrepressibly from the first bars of the opening number right through to the moment that drummer Matt Tong strikes a beat for the last time. Then you’ll probably wish it wasn’t over and start to think about when you might next get a chance to see the band play live again (if you are anything like me).
In Auckland, Bloc Party served up a three-part concert, playing a long first set followed by two only slightly shorter encores. Tracks from latest album Four featured heavily, with standouts being Octopus, Day Four, So he begins to lie, and V.A.L.I.S. The two tracks from Four which left me a little cold were Coliseum and We’re not good people, however, hearing Signs, which for me is one of the best songs from Bloc Party’s third album Intimacy easily made up for that – who can argue with xylophony goodness?! Old tracks from Silent Alarm and A weekend in the city which have proven their longevity – Hunting for witches, This modern love, Helicopter, Banquet, and Blue light – were undoubtedly crowd-pleasers. The not-yet-recorded Ratchet (worth a Google if you are a fan) brought with it a summer-vibe which seemed well in tune with the balmy weather outdoors. Flux – one of those tracks which is even better live than on recording (including with live cover intro of Rhianna’s We found love) was an absolute high point, rounding out the second encore.
The crowd was loving it and Bloc Party knew it. Crowd-surfing, chanting, exuberant hand-clapping and excitable dancing, with close to continuous crowd singalongs. Bloc Party seems to be a band of polarised personalities, with the on-stage introvertism of Gordon Moakes and Russell Lissack the counterpoint to seemingly eccentric drummer Matt Tong (he’s been sporting denim cutoffs and not much else on stage for the past year or so which makes Arrested Development fans wonder about his nevernude status) and feisty frontman Kele Okereke, whose enthusiasm is infectious. Kele delivered an amazing stage climb which involved climbing up the massive side-amps to the first-floor balcony, climbing over the railings, running though the balcony crowd and singing atop a table which happened to be right in front of where we happened to be standing… he seemed confident yet surprised that the microphone lead had followed him that far. It was moments like these that left no doubt – Bloc Party live in concert is a party every time.
Photos by CIA, The Powerstation, Auckland, 7 March 2013.