Bloc Party, Birthdays, London


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Celebrating the top spot of their new album Four in the midweek charts, Bloc Party announced this intimate show at Birthdays in Dalston on Twitter. Stating that it would be free and on a first-come, first-served basis, the bar recommended that Bloc’s numerous fans not attempt to camp overnight but from 8am the next day they were already queuing for the show.

In a 90-minute set Bloc Party performed a medley of old and new tracks. Launching straight into haunting and heavy track “3X3” from their new album, Four, Russell Lissack’s familiar Telecaster riffs drive them into “ Hunting for Witches”, “Positive Tension” and the newer, more aggressive tracks like hardcore-inspired “Kettling”.

“This song is about standing up for what you believe in,” Okereke says, and the chaotic mosh of flailing limbs crash into each other on lyrics like, “We smash the windows, popo don’t fuck around”. Despite the riotous nature of the new songs, Okereke could not be more observant of safety and security, looking concerned from the start.

“This is starting to look dangerous, guys, if I lose any teeth, I’l l lose my beautiful smile,” he says, consistently checking that the crowd is all right. While the band’s 2009-11 hiatus saw each member exploring their own music and styles, they return with a show as slick and solid as ever.

It is clear that each member has put a personal stamp on the newer tracks: from the hardcore-heavy bass lines of “Coliseum” marking Gordon Moakes’ own band Young Legionnaire’s influence into the disco-inflected guitar delays on “ Octopus” reflecting Okereke’s own dance/electro solo material.

It is also clear that this is an album that unites their interests and the fans enjoy the new material as much as the band clearly love playing it. “See, there’s plenty more rockets in our pockets,” Okereke says after the mosh to “Octopus” and he ends the show by dedicating the last track to all the campers, covering Rihanna’s “ We Found Love” with scattered, jagged guitars that temper out into “ Flux” from “A Weekend In The City”.

The band recently announced the biggest show of their UK career, a 2013 gig at London’s 19,000 capacity Earls Court, which makes this 250- capacity show a rare event for fans. While Four may not be the Bloc Party’s best album, tonight’s show displays the depth and progression in the band’s long history together and proves that their live performances are as gutsy as ever.