Playing an intimate, free show
Bloc Party - Live At Birthdays, London`

Amidst a surging tide of drenched torsos and undeoderized armpits stood I in wait for the almighty Bloc Party. 250 fans of Kele et al took to Dalston’s Birthdays to recite those well known lyrics and mingle in a space where even sardines would find their gills sweaty and feeling hot under the fin. That’s far from a complaint though.

See, the chance to see the foursome in such an intimate domicile comes about… well, it doesn’t. And thus, they groomed through old classics whilst intermittently mixing in traces of their aptly named fourth album, ‘Four’, Bloc Party are undeniably back. Albeit it via a reimagined approach to their style. First, came new track ‘Octopus’, ‘Silent Alarm’-esque in its familiar staccato guitar strums and catchy chorus prompting an onslaught of flying elbows from the audience. ‘Hunting For Witches’ was hastily followed up by ‘Positive Tension’, an ode to a bloke called John who has apparently “been there since the start.” In total admiration, the crowd spilled into a joint merriment of John’s name, screaming it at the heights of their lungs to the joy of Bloc Party guitarist, Russell Lissack.

From there, the Londoners streaked through second album opener ‘Song For Clay (Disappear Here)’ and another debut longplayer classic, ‘Banquet’. In between songs, Kele was his normal, tentative self; straying from elaborate song interludes in favour of direct crowd addresses and bare introductions for the next track. It was much the same for the piano-laden trifle that is ‘One More Chance’ where he simply murmured: “This next one is a song,” before smirking and accepting his guitar from an anonymous side stage hand. Both ‘This Modern Love’ and the fragmented aria that is ‘Ares’ passed by in a frenzied bout of moshpitting before the final aural treat was pronounced. As the reworked ‘We Found Love’ intro to ‘Flux’ broke through the speakers, the crowd broke into raucous chants to supplement the track’s thin screeching guitar chords and workmanlike drumming pattern. The predictable call for more as the group left the stage was duly answered moments later as they shoved their frames through an atom-tight swarm.

The lunchbox venue once more united artist and fan to the point where the shorts-donning, Air Max wearing lead singer’s microphone brushed atop my bonce during ‘Helicopters’ whilst he beseeched the crowd, “hoping for a miracle.” As the final song drew to a rapturous conclusion and I emerged into the light in a puddle of sweat, there was a similarly sized, more enviable puddle of bliss to overarch the wet clothes.

Words by Errol Anderson

Follow Clash: