Live Review: Bloc Party, Kate Boy

8 January 2016 | 11:26 am | Hannah Story

"Nostalgia is not enough to make this show interesting."

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Why? Why did this Falls sideshow even happen? Why didn't we just stay at home, play Silent Alarm with the sound turned up to 11, drink tea? We could've used the recovery day. What we were given tonight was stale, and that's hard to say, Bloc Party having been one of those formative indie-rock bands, the ones that seemingly soundtracked our youths, those sweaty high school dance parties, new P-plater road trips... But nostalgia is not enough to make this show interesting.

We opened with Kate Boy, a Swedish-Australian duo playing their first Sydney show to the Enmore Theatre no less. Vocalist Kate Akhurst is from Sydney, her bandmate on synth is Markus Dextegen from Stockholm. They sound like every other lady-led synth-pop group act around right now: think on our side of the world Eves The Behavior, and up in the Northern Hemisphere Chvrches and Highasakite. But Akhurst and Dextegen wear black caps and shapeless black tees and jeans: so quirky, so different. Akhurst has a decent enough singing voice, but ultimately the songs all sound the same, predictable, and fail to warm up a crowd desperate to relive some lost teen moment.

The new iteration of Bloc Party emerged on stage to play their lacklustre October single The Good News. It failed to psych up a crowd who seem to just want a greatest hits set. This is the case for every song they choose to throw at us from upcoming release Hymns, an album that already sounds like middle-of-the-road indie-rock, the crowd taking the opportunity to head to the bar — more vodka energy for singles past. The new stuff, which Kele Okereke insisted on introducing song by song, feels almost jarring compared to the fun of their earlier releases, pulling the mood down. And to be frank Okereke seemed tired, like his heart's just not really in it tonight, so there's a real lack of showmanship, resulting in little atmosphere in the room. He sings well, he's crisp and clear, but just not engaging.

The energy lifted for Hunting For Witches and Positive Tension, the crowd seemingly grateful to hear something they know, dancing about as if the sound didn't seem a few levels too low and a little washed out. Okereke began to warm up, having a little groove on the spot. New bandmates Justin Harris and Louise Bartle add zero vibe. They could be replaced by literally anyone and no one would notice, and founding member Russell Lissack gives lifting the mood a go but is unsuccessful. We're not saying that the musicianship wasn't tight, just that it had no sparkle. Waiting For The 7.18 seemed an odd choice, before Song For Clay (Disappear Here), Banquet and One More Chance impressed, giving us the Bloc Party we know and love(d). The encore featured Helicopter, Flux and This Modern Love, a last chance to dance, and the home of all the set highlights.

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