Bloc Party - London Heaven - 14/12/04
17 Dec 2004
the band's largest, sell-out, headline date thus far. and it's fancy dress. for those that can be bothered.
Set-List: 'The Marshals are Dead', 'Like Eating Glass', 'Banquet', 'This Modern Love', 'She's Hearing Voices', 'Helicopter', 'Tulips', 'Positive Tension', 'Little Thoughts', 'Luno', ENCORE, 'So Here We Are', 'Staying Fat', 'Price of Gas', 'The Answer'.
As a small child, I always wondered what the hell Santa did when it wasn't actually Christmas Eve. We now know. He's only a bloody roadie for Bloc Party. That fetching, red suit and fluffy beard are recognisable anywhere, and not a speck of soot on his person. As if that's not bad enough, trudging through the crowd is Scooby Doo and a sizeable, yellow chicken (we're not on the mushrooms; the band did ask for us to turn up in fancy dress), and these lucky buggers win the chance to meet the band afterwards.
All such factors considered, it's quite a strange setting tonight, Heaven. Additionally located underneath Charing Cross Station, the venue is made up of several arches, and a lot of men seem to be winking at each other, too. Just what is going on?
Well, it becomes clearer: this is a show of icons. After a fairly muted audience response to support act, Kano, BP take to the stage, and singer Kele Okereke humbly informs us that they are called Bloc Party and this is their Christmas spectacular. And what a spectacle. As the guitars kick in on the chopping, full-on charge of 'The Marshals Are Dead' we know that everything which once meant something before would soon be denoted new meaning. No longer the 'hopefuls'; Bloc Party are it.
Their set is scattered with singles: the sublime, pouting stomp of 'Banquet', and back-to-back renditions of grisly debut 'She's Hearing Voices' and compelling, recent offering 'Helicopter', which will only aid their cause to attract more followers to their stark, communistic sounds. And just to get in the festive spirit, the lads return for the encore looking like the Village People; Kele sporting a fetching cowboy outfit, bassist Gordon is Scrooge (we think), guitarist Russell with antlers and a flashing nose, and drummer Matt donning fairy wings. It somehow works.
'It's been a pretty amazing year for us and we just wanted to give something back to you,' Kele tells us, and fortunately we don't get 'YMCA' but at least the swooning balladry of new 45, 'So Here We Are'. As the set closes with the euphoric chimes of 'The Answer', Scooby Doo and her friends weave their way through the crowd towards backstage, and the rest of us - pedestrian-clothed - trudge dazedly into the night.
What we've learnt? Dress up, and win. And Bloc Party are the future of British music. The likes of The Killers and The Strokes will soon learn that their once domineering, sturdy grip on UK audiences may no longer be as tight nor as taut as once thought. For them and others, now nothing is certain.