Review: Bloc Party @ Kelvingrove Bandstand

Published

Credit: Katrina Williams

Katrina Williams
Culture Deputy: Books

A rabble-rousing performance so good it held off torrential rain-pour

There is a certain sort of awe-inspiring energy that comes with performing at the Kelvingrove Bandstand – an energy that was quadrupled once Bloc Party took the stage. Their 90 minute set passed in a flash, thanks to banger after banger erupting from the group. And, as this concert was part of their ‘Silent Alarm’ Live tour, we were treated to all of the classics.

The group took their time at the beginning of the set with a dreamy performance of Compliments, inspiring a swaying, gentle stirring amongst the crowd. Frontman Kele Okereke then began to engage the crowd with witty comments in between songs as enthusiasm began to build slowly, then explode all at once as the drumming chorus of She’s Hearing Voices got everyone singing and shouting along. Before the crowd really got going, however, we were also treated to a touching performance of This Modern Love (dedicated to “all the lovers in the audience”), and a haunting rendition of Blue Light.

These two slower songs were perfectly placed in the set, because once the chant of “red pill blue pill red pill blue pill” slowed down everyone seemed to lose it all at the same time. There was nothing less than beer being thrown into the sky, underwear being hurled at the main stage, and a crowd-surfing incident – the perpetrator of which was very hurriedly escorted from the venue. Dancing took up the walkways despite the efforts of event staff trying to calm the area down. Kele himself seemed enthralled with the audience’s wild behaviour, bantering with us as we all got more and more riled up.

Nightfall enveloped the Bandstand, which provided the perfect backdrop for the flashing light show perfectly accompanying each pounding beat. I’m much too young to say it felt like 2005 again, but I’m sure if you asked anyone else in the amphitheatre that had at least 10 years on me they’d agree. Bloc Party’s music was truly ahead of its time – I could imagine every song they played still being blared on the popular radio today had it been released more recently.

I realised whilst watching my shaky phone recordings back that by Banquet you could hear my terrible singing clearly in every single song. However, I wasn’t the only one in the audience yelling along to every single word – it felt as if the entire venue was Kele’s background singers by the end of the gig. Then, after the jittering apprehension of the announcement that only two songs were left, the iconic synth opening notes of Flux began to rise over the amphitheatre.

Flux was definitely a magical performance for me. Dusty blue and green lights flickered across the audience as we all chanted along. Kele captivated us with his performative movements, miming cutting off his hand as he sung the opening lines “If your right hand is causing you pain, cut it off, cut it off…”, whilst the rest of the band put their all into the song. However, we certainly weren’t in a state of ‘flux’ as the song ended – the crowd was buzzing with satisfaction as the group played their final song and came down for a bow just as a torrential downpour hit the stage.

Overall, I’m glad to say that this concert fulfilled all my expectations and more – this was my first Bloc Party concert, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. The band had an amazing, crazy energy about them that took over the venue, so much so that I would’ve been happy even if I had experienced the whole set in the middle of the subsequent storm. Alas, it was time to go back home to instead play their discography on repeat, which I entirely encourage you to do if you somehow haven’t already.