Sometimes, a relatively long-standing indie act gets invited to play stadiums by opening for a massive artist (who may or may not be younger than them). It’s a great opportunity, the headliner is nothing but supportive, the new crowds are receptive – but the group would still like to do some headlining shows of their own, maybe fit in between opening gigs. They’ve got their own loyal fans, who want to see them play a longer set (and not pay stadium prices…). Such was the case when Bloc Party, in the midst of their big tour with Paramore, played Brooklyn Steel on Sunday, May 28th.
And Bloc Party do have their own loyal fans, who packed the not-small place (QRO venue review) – it was a rare non-school night Sunday (Memorial Day Weekend), but also the night of the highly-hyped Succession series finale (though that show might have been one of the ‘prestige dramas’ that only the coastal media elites talk about, giving the impression that everyone else does – i.e., the opposite of its successful prairie equivalent, Yellowstone). Bloc Party did put out a new record just late last year, Alpha Games (QRO review), and even released a new single “High Life” for the tour with Paramore, so came stocked with new music. Indeed, the group started with three songs from Alpha Games – “In Situ”, “You Should Know the Truth”, and “Rough Justice” – followed by none other than “High Life”.
Bloc Party playing “Banquet” live at Brooklyn Steel in Brooklyn, NY on May 28th, 2023:
For those who first heard Bloc Party back in the aughts with such breakouts as “Banquet” and “Helicopters”, it is a bit of a shock to see how much the group has changed (and not just that only singer Kele Okereke and guitarist Russell Lissack remain from the beginning). While back then they were part of the indie-rock revival, leaning into angular, today they’re more about the dance bangers (if still leaning into angular). Some geriatric millennials may complain, but this was a crowd that was into the new as well as the old. At one point Okereke mentioned that he wrote the next song while living in New York for a year, adding, “I’m not going to tell you what this is called, because you should know what it is called…” Note: it was “Real Talk” from 2012’s Four (QRO review).
Okereke had some good lines throughout the night, such as before “High Life”, noting, “It’s been a hot minute since we last played New York, but everything’s changed. Now everywhere smells like weed.” He joked about Memorial Day Weekend, that Americans have, “A lot of weekends…” (note: this weekend was also a Bank Holiday in their native Britain). He dedicated Alpha’s “Sex Magik” to, “all the practicing witches” – guess he wasn’t going to do “Hunting For Witches” off of 2007’s A Weekend In the City (QRO review) for them.
Bloc Party playing “She’s Hearing Voices” live at Brooklyn Steel in Brooklyn, NY on May 28th, 2023:
Oh, and Bloc Party still played the by-now-can-call-them-old Silent Alarm classics, from “Banquet” in the middle of the set to “Helicopter” into the encore break, “She’s Hearing Voices” to start the encore, and “This Modern Love” to end the night.
Bloc Party playing “This Modern Love” live at Brooklyn Steel in Brooklyn, NY on May 28th, 2023:
During the show, Okereke did mention their ‘other gigs’, praising Paramore for taking them on tour – while adding that he really loves playing these special shows for just his band’s own fans. Indeed, he noted that he might see some of those in attendance very soon, for they play Madison Garden (QRO venue review) two nights after (QRO live review). Whether you an old loyalist or just love Hayley Williams, check out Bloc Party.