Photographs by Neil Van
Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm was a critical darling that perfectly encapsulated the romantic and wishfulness of youth. Since its release in the mid-2000s, the band found new sonic paths across multiple records, including their recently-released fifth record Hymns, and significant line-up changes. Yet, the sounds and perspective of their debut (along with selections from their second and third albums A Weekend In The City and Intimacy) continue to be inescapable for both fans and Bloc Party, a marked fact that was surprisingly ingrained in the first of two shows at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto this past weekend.
At the helm of the nostalgic kick was Bloc Party lead singer Kele Okereke, who humbly complemented Toronto and shared the joy he felt to be back in the city. The genuine good-naturedness extended far to audience members as the band travelled across their vast catalogue of indie, alternative and electronica music. Undoubtedly, Bloc Party showed its footing as one of the premiere shapeshifters in indie music with newer cuts like “So Real” and “Virtue” from Hymns taking them to mellower depths and dance-tinged number “Ratchet” off of The Nextwave Sessions, the latter reminiscent of Okereke’s solo projects. While such songs appeared to be less known by audience members, the seamless morphing between sweet melodies and energizing shoutouts put Kele at the top his vocal performance and presented a pleasant showing from the entire band.
With his eyes on a couple of eager fans near the front, Okereke noted that newer material was not exactly shoving music, and recommended that the individuals resume all activity before launching into “Hunting For Witches” and “Positive Tension”. Within seconds of the heavy percussion trickling in and urgent guitar lifelines, Bloc Party’s set was no longer simply a Bloc Party set; it was a bonafide time machine, warping screams, energy and dance moves to the types found in adolescent bedrooms and old concert events. The fans who were at the Phoenix were there exactly for that reason, and the band was willing to provide it to mask any sense of time passing. Near the end, the bubbling “This Modern Love” from Silent Alarm was a warm embrace that even the most present of attendees could not escape; it was undoubtedly just as lovely as the creators who stood before us, forever a part of our memories, old and new.