"The air was brimming with both excitement and nervous tension."
Haiku Hands set the pace with an energetic and electric set. The entire band were decked out in sweet vintage threads, giving the show an '80s workout video vibe that was not out of place with the overwhelming sense of nostalgia in the air. Their enthusiasm was infectious, inspiring even the most casual of fans to glance across at the stage to see what was happening. Highlights included Jupiter and femme-anthem It’s Not About You. Both songs included extensive synchronised dancing by the band members and crowd singing.
Five long white sheets and very little else set the stage. Bloc Party’s first album was seminal and formative for so many people, so the air was brimming with both excitement and nervous tension. The reverse playthrough of such an important album raises questions. Will new drummer Louise Bartle be able to live up to the cult-like status of Matt Tong? Would they be able to capture the intensity and angst that made the album just so damn good?
Bloc Party charged on stage, Kele Okereke briefly greeting the crowd with his best, “G’day Sydney,” before launching into Compliments. Plans came next, lifting the tempo and mood of the Hordern. Okereke’s distinctively smooth voice invited waves of emotion as his charged lyrics wrapped themselves around the 20-somethings in the crowd and sent them hurtling back into the minds of their teenage selves. As each track melted into the next, the intensity and urgency only increased. The Pioneers came and went before This Modern Love had everyone grabbing the shoulders of their closest friend and screaming every word. As the start of the album (and thus the end of the set) drew ever closer, the choice to play the record backwards became increasingly justified. Each song brought more and more energy, building the Hordern up to a loud and thrilling crescendo. Banquet, Helicopter and Like Eating Glass did not disappoint in the slightest – Bradley doing Tong’s intricate and frantic drum lines perfect justice. As the lights faded to black and the band exited there was general confusion in the crowd. Okereke quickly addressed this as he re-entered and announced they would play a handful of extra songs. Little Thoughts, Two More Years and The Prayer were very welcome additions, although the choice to finish on two of their newer songs seemed to fall a little flat on a crowd dripping with mid-noughties glee.
As the house lights came up, the faces of ecstatic punters proved Bloc Party had answered the questions that they had brought with them. The night packed a good dose of nostalgia, but the flawless execution of this time jump by a group of talented musicians made it easy to swallow. Bloc Party were incredible and Silent Alarm is amazing.