Bloc Party’s 2022 tour was a reminder of the band’s legacy in British music
On May’s penultimate day thousands would flock to the O2 Academy in Bristol to experience the eagerly awaited return of Bloc Party.
The palpable sense of anticipation in the air was made stronger by the excitement that comes with having one of the year’s first warm evenings. Most people are in their early thirties – in part reflective of the band’s radio silence, but also of the original fans’ unwavering loyalty.
The tour celebrates the release of ‘Alpha Games’ – a 12-track LP released in April and the band’s first new music in six years.
It would also see the induction of a new rhythm section – Louise Bartle replacing Matt Tong on percussion and Justin Harris picking up the bass guitar in place of Gordon Moakes. Lead singer Kele Okereke and guitarist Russel Lisack haven’t aged a bit, Lisack occupying the stage in his ever-endearing adolescent manner and Okereke maintaining his understated composure.
‘Day Drinker’ – the album’s opening track – also kicks off tonight’s proceedings. Despite its unfamiliarity amongst many audience members, it’s nonetheless well-received. With ‘Alpha Games’ baring stark resemblance to the band’s older music, it’s doesn’t exactly break new ground but would be difficult for long-time fans not to enjoy. Once suitably primed, the audience could go full throttle on next few tracks, all classics. ‘Hunting for Witches’, ‘Flux’ and ‘Traps’ – a single from their latest album – are all appropriately met with a sea of punching fists. People have quite literally waited years for this, and it shows.
A man of few words, when Kele does address the crowd, it’s with congratulations of Bristol’s revolutionary and catalytic actions during 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests. ‘When I saw that video of the Colston statue being torn down’, Kele says. ‘It made me realise that there are other people who are disgusted at what’s going on right now in the UK’. The crowd roared. It was a poignant moment as well as a reminder of the band’s quasi-political modus operandi.
So, then, it’s up to some ‘Silent Alarm’ classics to bring things to an emotional, triumphant close. What followed: an exodus of grins and interlocked arms which made their way home. To their delight, it seems Bloc Party still have lots left to give.
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