Words by Brendan Delevere
Photos by Josh Groom
2005 – it feels like it was not that long ago that Americans were feeling the impact of Hurricane Katrina and President George W. Bush. Bird Flu gripped the world in fear, Australia declined to sign the Kyoto protocol and a little website called YouTube started up. In the UK, Prince Charles married his cousin and a little indie band called Bloc Party released what would be one of the best debut albums of the year.
Thirteen years on, which saw four more albums, a shuffle of members and a hiatus, tonight, that debut is to be played in full at the first of two packed out Sydney shows.
Opening to a swiftly filling Hordern Pavilion, the four hometown ladies of Haiku Hands took the stage. Their electro pop sensibilities, in sync choreography and infectious grooves are incredibly hard to resist. This reviewer was shaking his thing to Triple J hits ‘Jupiter’ and the Latin influence of latest single ‘Squat’. Bringing their rambunctious opening slot to a close, and most certainly winning a swag of new fans, ‘Not About You’ had arms waving and people jamming. More than just a show, this was an art performance piece that’s ultimate purpose is to get you moving and grooving.
Though billed as the second Sydney show after the Friday night sold out quick smart, Thursday night may not have been a sell out but it certainly was damn close.
As previously stated, tonight was all about 2005’s platinum selling debut record ‘Silent Alarm’.
As the lights dimmed, screams grew louder as the band cut a silhouette through the thick smoke on stage. Kele Okereke announcing themselves, they launched into the last track on the album ‘Compliments’, it quickly became apparent that they were playing the album in reverse as ‘Plans’ followed soon after.
With the second half of the album containing more indie ballads, some would say the show was off to a slow start, I would prefer to call it a slow build up to what will be a crashing crescendo of monster hits.
‘Luno’ and ‘So Here We Are’ played out next, with front man Kele Okereke giving a little goodbye send off to the photographers in the pit after the third track. With ‘Price Of Gasoline’, the pace picked up a bit, voices in the crowd were beginning to join together in chorus, culminating in full screams during ‘This Modern Love’ as confetti cannons filled the room, one punter would later be seen making snow angels on the floor.
As the last soulful note of ‘Blue Light’ rang out, you could feel the energy rising as every person in the room knew what was to be played next. ‘Banquet’ kicked off the beginning of the end and what would be the proverbial high point of the set.
‘Positive Tension’ with its plodding bass line, driving drums and Kele’s slight lyric change and excited exclamation of ‘titties!’ kept that positive energy pumping, despite the bars now all closing bar one outside.
The finale, a double punch of that classic mid naughties indie rock sound, ‘Helicopter’ and album opener, now set closer, ‘Like Eating Glass’ rocked the Hordern, every voice and every arm raised together as one.
A short break and the four piece were back to play some rarities and other hits, reminding us they do have more than one album under their belts.
‘Tulips’ and ‘Little Thoughts’ led the encore set, though after the last few bangers on Silent Alarm, it was quite apparent that these songs were a step backwards. Ballad like in nature, the energy in the room was slipping away. It all picked back up with the opening tones of ‘The Prayer’, the crowd getting up and grooving. A clearly audible sigh of “aww” was heard when Kele suggested this was to be the last song of the night, swapping his guitar for just the mic, thanking us all the quartet jumped into the bass heavy dance anthem of ‘Ratchet’. “Make it loud, make it proud, make it count” these are words to live and to dance to, and by the way the crowd were moving, every one was making it count.
This album, Silent Alarm, is the album that I, like many others tonight made high school years better, many of these songs featured on mix cds in our cars as we drove aimlessly around town, listened to on early generation iPods in class and were pumped at every underage house party I went to whilst sixteen. To say this album has aged well, it still holds as one of the best debut indie albums to own.
Check out all the photos by Josh Groom –