Bloc Party review: New songs and Different Drugs looking for a way to fit in


Enmore Theatre, January 7

Bloc Party are finding their new shapes in new songs.
Bloc Party are finding their new shapes in new songs. 

There's a song on Hymns, the coming Bloc Party album whose material dotted this show, called Different Drugs and it may never be more appropriate than in the last show of this Australian tour. Not that anyone on stage, least of all the fit and muscular, unexpectedly relaxed and happy, Kele​ Okereke​ appeared to be on any drugs at all.

Rather, it was the contrast between where the band have landed now compared with where we found them a decade ago that suggested different strategies at the very least, if not different stimuli at play.

Calmer and slower, you might even say measured, fresh tracks such as The Good News (which opened the show), Virtue, Exes and Different Drugs sound intriguing so far on record and make for what could be a quite affecting fifth album. Okereke being tender has always appealed and Okereke at some kind of peace is worth investigating.

On stage, though, surrounded by the rushing Banquet (fingers poking you in the back to get you moving), the twitchy insistence of Hunting For Witches (with Russell Lissack's​ simple but nagging guitar riff always demanding) or the jumpy drive of Helicopter (paranoia on speed nearly spitting in your face), the new songs feel a bit too close to placeholders. At least for now.

There was, therefore, an element of disjointedness about the show at times, but it was never enough to pull it right back, thanks in no small measure to the effectiveness of the new rhythm section Okereke and Lissack have drafted.

Drummer Louise Bartle could be machine-like in her nailing of post-punk agitation without ever losing a feel for those rhythms, and bass player – and occasional xylophone and keyboard player – Justin Harris was a quiet achiever. If the band had to split in two these look like nice choices for Bloc Party mk 2.

For now though, it's the songs not the players that need integrating.

1 review