Last night saw Bloc Party reunite with their hometown fans at the sold-out Astoria. With their new album A Weekend in the City just a week away from release, there were high expectations for London's own.
A Weekend in the City explores the dark underbelly of a weekend of excesses and the eventual come down marked with the complex issues that weave into each scenario. Lead singer Kele Okereke embraces these moments on the record and his own vulnerability has developed into confidence as he grows into one of the more thoughtful and engaging front men today.
Despite his fragile and pessimistic persona in the press of late, Kele was all smiles taking the stage last night and breaking right into the new album's lead track, "Song for Clay (Disappear Here)," proclaiming "East London is a vampire, it sucks the joy right out of me!" Welcome back Mr. Okereke!
From there the band didn't hold back as they launched right into hits from their debut included "Like Eating Glass" which sounded the alarm that they were officially back. They whipped through "Banquet" which had the Astoria shaking while quickly delivering the new album's answer in the haunting and punchy "Hunting for Witches." The first UK single off A Weekend in the City, "The Prayer," was well-received despite its odd tempo and challenging pace - a tune that unfolds over time thanks to their trademark triumphant chorus.
The Silent Alarm favorites still got the best response, sounding confident, immediate and as fresh as ever. The crowd reacted with an equally emotional response, singing along to every word, clapping along with Kele and raising hands on each build up and outburst.
Bloc Party songs, unlike many of their contemporaries, go deep and hit you with emotional bursts. The tunes work on the dance floor but they go beyond being trendy as each song opens up over time and lets you in.
A Weekend in the City is complex, and less immediate than Silent Alarm, but sometimes the best records need the time to marinate. With a slowly maturing sound, Bloc Party are leading a journey from the highs of Saturday night to the quiet blurry moments the next day. Something glorious is definitely about to happen.