The Silent Alarm tour brought Bloc Party back to a venue that saw them play some of the most memorable shows off the back of A Weekend in the City some 10 years ago. Though the first show of two in Sydney, it was the second show announced after the first sold out, so it wasn’t as packed as the shows were ten years ago – but the anticipation was just as palpable; even if those enough old enough to have been at those shows may be feeling slightly less rambunctious than we did in the band’s prime.
That in mind, the crowd was more diverse in age than it was back then; when the group signified the peak of the British Indie Rock invasion that also saw the likes of Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks, Kaiser Chiefs and more make their mark on the world. But it really all came back to their debut, which they were here to perform in full for the first time since the memorable surprise set in Byron Bay in 2009, and has since maintained its status as one of the greatest albums of its generation, attracting new listeners every year. Though it’s fair to say that late 20s/early 30-somethings were definitely the driving force in the room.
Bathed in white light against a white backdrop, “Compliments” opened, as the group delved into a reordering of the classic album; starting with some of the album’s slower numbers before moving into the hits and heavier tracks. Russell and Kele up front the only remaining members from the band’s early days. “Plans” followed, “Luno”, “Price of Gasoline” and more, until “This Modern Love” really livened things up with confetti. “She’s Hearing Voices” only one upped its predecessor as the red and blue lights blinded the crowd, and for a moment we felt like teenagers again.
We briefly slowed down for “Blue Light”, but Kele promised us that things were “about to get hectic” – and he wasn’t wrong – as the main set wrapped up with the best known songs from the album: “Banquet”, “Positive Tension”,
“Helicopter”, “Like Eating Glass”. Say what you want about nostalgia – and there’s no question that the band aren’t the same without Tong and Moakes. But this run through of one of the era’s best albums was among the best live shows I’ve seen in recent memory. There was no one leaving that room who wasn’t incredible satisfied by the experience, and wishing they could do it all over again.
Their encore consisted of five tracks Kele that promised would be “equally as cool”, but something told me even he knew wasn’t the case. We were here to hear Silent Alarm after all. They kicked off with “Two More Years” and ran through a mish mash of their catalog with “Little Thoughts”, “The Prayer”, “The Love Within” and finally “Flux”, which ended the set with more confetti.
It’s a bit weird when you’ve played your most loved songs before the encore, but the extra time with the band was still welcomed (even if I would have picked a very different setlist). You could tell Kele and the band were truly enjoying themselves up there; but then again, they’ve always enjoyed a strong reception in Sydney. He called it it his “favourite city in the world,” a couple of times. And while I know he says that to all the crowds, for some reason I believe him when he says it here.
All in all, the retreat to Silent Alarm bliss brought fans pure happiness – and honestly, even with the so-so selection of encore tracks, it just might have been the gig of the year.
So Here We Are
Price of Gasoline
This Modern Love
She’s Hearing Voices
Like Eating Glass
Two More Years
The Love Within
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Bloc Party continue their Silent Alarm tour in Sydney tonight before finishing up in Brisbane. For more details head HERE.
Photo by Bruce Baker. You can check out more photos HERE. The reviewer attended the concert at Hordern Pavilion on 29th November 2018. Haiku Hands were the support – who are always fantastic, but I unfortunately missed them tonight.