Bloc Party


It’s Friday in Manchester, two boys arrive from Liverpool canned up via a perilous train journey through Widnes and Warrington, it’s time to party. The venue… Castlefield Bowl. The entertainment… Silent Alarm… But backwards!

Finding out through musical wizard Dan Saleh that the London four piece would be performing their seminal debut record Silent Alarm (2005) in reverse, I quickly frowned and pondered whether this highly anticipated night would actually be a huge disappointment. The final answer, no, it was fucking marvellous.

Starting with ‘Compliments’, a very dark and eerie tune, I was immediately diseased with a smirk that could probably be seen for miles around. Smoking a cigarette, sipping a fosters, I closed my eyes and got lost in the music. This album means the world to me and the previous sentence’s final clause could describe my mood during every track rendition, with words such as frolicking, screaming and spilling thrown in for good measure. Rifling through ‘Plans’, the set is already building and the sold out Castlefield Bowl is bouncing with an excitement I haven’t felt for sometime, certainly in an outdoor capacity. The impeccable drumming from this track definitely helped get the crowd hopping and I was certainly leaving the ground every 2 to 3 seconds with hair flowing in the nicotine stained air.

The first absolute banger of the night then in ‘Luno’, with its lyrics of bleeding noses and being tired of your mum and dad, had seemingly every cunt inside singing like a deranged drunken lunatic. The lunacy of ‘Luno’ also proved that despite missing two original members from the heady days of the mid 2000s, this new formation of Bloc Party was still able to play the record with a loyalty I haven’t seen many other groups do. It sounded amazing, frontman Kele Okereke’s inflections, shouts and more soulful moments were like ripples in time, echoes of a golden age of Brit indie bullishness.

‘Price of Gasoline’ is my absolute favourite track from the album. Its bold bass line and scratchy guitars provided by Lissack and Okereke send shivers down my spine, as does the anthemic words from the massive sounding chorus: “WE’RE GONNA WIN THIS/WE’RE GONNA WIN THIS”. Once again the crowd is in rapture.

The more soulful, ballady tracks such as ‘So Here We Are’ and ‘This Modern Love’ are moments I shall never forget. Crammed in shoulder to shoulder, strangers are singing the words to each other with great passion, myself guilty of trying to wrap my arms around a large gentleman to sing the night away. There was definitely a lot of arm slinging as well, often times involving spillages of ale and spit. It was only half way through and my voice was already shot and my lungs felt like burst whoopie cushions, unable to continue their simple task of excreting air then filling up again. Was worth it though.

With an equally sore jaw from all the expansions and clenching, the album continued to inflate the atmosphere. The on stage banter as it were also helped create a friendly, worship like mood amongst the people of Manchester. ‘Positive Tension’, ‘Bluest Light’ and ‘She’s Hearing Voices’ in particular continued this path towards complete musical ecstasy. Declaring the people watching from balconies via nearby flats were cheapskates, which was met by a jovial blend of boos and “fuck off ya twats”, Okereke was in fine form.

I have seen Bloc Party before at Festival No. 6 a couple years back, however this set is definitely the superior of the two. That set contained a mix of tracks from their other records like A Weekend In The City (2007) and Intimacy (2008) and to be honest it left me wanting a lot more. This Silent Alarm celebration however, was a truly satisfying experience.

Polishing off the night with the final few tracks, ‘Banquet’, ‘Helicopter’ and another absolute favourite of mine ‘Like Eating Glass’, the crowd erupts in enormous applause and appreciation for the London group, who have truly made many people’s night a special one indeed. It’s clear from this album playthrough that it’s an important record for many British music fans. Although I was only 10 when it originally came out, thus coming to it a few years later, it’s hard to swallow that perhaps Bloc Party didn’t deliver records of a similar fire and zest afterwards. Alas, not many acts can boast even one album on this level, bordering on modern classic, with almost universal appeal. God bless the indie boys of the mid 2000s.

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Liverpool born music writer with passion for punk and Everton FC