Gig Review: Bloc Party at The Olympia
It’s no wonder Bloc Party managed to sell out The Olympia so quickly, prompting the scheduling of a second night; not only has the band’s popularity spiked once more following the release their long awaited fourth album last summer (aptly and imaginatively titled Four) but it’s also their first appearance on Irish shores in (coincidentally) four years. It turned out to be night well worth the wait.
Irish indie rockers The Cast of Cheers opened. One would have to imagine this was a dream come true for the four young individuals in the band, one half of their sound obviously heavily influenced by Bloc Party, with the other likely coming from the complex ‘math rock’ riffs of Foals. Together, they produce a supremely competent if rather forgettable and unremarkable sound. Still, they did a solid job of warming up the increasingly eager crowd.
Four reestablished Bloc Party as primarily a rock band, taking the gentler guitar riffs of Silent Alarm and smashing them together with the hard rock edge of bassist Moakes’ side project Young Legionnaire. It seems the electronic experimental age of the band, which very much divided their fan base, is over. The gig’s tracklist focused on material from their most recent release and the first and second albums, with the more electro-tinged and undoubtedly weakest release, Intimacy, seeing the least attention. A wise decision by the quartet. It was a balanced and varied set of songs, a great a sampling of Bloc Party’s library. The only real weak link in the chain was the rendition of ‘Signs’, which was performed without the signature xylophone and consequently lost a lot of its charm and personality. A miniscule flaw in the grand scheme of the gig.
The band were on top form throughout, clearly enjoying themselves. There is certainly something to the idea that a band’s performance is dictated by the energy they can draw from crowd, who were similarly enthusiastic, especially having been starved of Bloc Party for the past few years. Frontman Kele Okereke was nothing but smiles, chatting casually with his audience from time to time and just generally having fun with them.
The Olympia Theatre is a fantastic venue, a perfect mid ground between larger venues like The O2 and more small inclined like The Academy. This had the wonderful effect of retaining the sense of intimacy without sacrificing the spectacle, of which Bloc Party absolutely know how to pull off, a spectacularly syncronised light show helping to make an already vivid atmosphere even more tangible.
A perfect setlist and venue, a wonderfully receptive audience and a tremendous stage show, combined with the raw talent Bloc Party have managed to maintain despite their hiatus, came together to create a top notch live experience. Let’s hope it isn’t another four years before they grace us with their presence again.