Bloc Party

Maida Vale Studios, London on Mon 5th Oct 2015

6 Music is a solid supporter of live music; there's the fledgling Spring festival that's lifted Manchester and Newcastle; active encouragement for up and coming acts to come and share their wares in a studio and regular forays into all manner of other activities. For this week only, 6 Music are taking command at Maida Vale Studios, celebrating live music and giving punters lucky enough to get a golden ticket the chance to see some top notch bands in intimate settings.

I've never been to Maida Vale but always wanted to. This iconic studio, recording space and performance venue has been part of the BBC's artillery for longer than I've lived. In a distant corner of studio three, the room in which Bloc Party are about to play, I can just about make out a tribute plaque to Bing Crosby. I can't read the detail but assume that he once graced this stage.

There's perhaps 200 people here for this midday gig. People taking an early lunch in their work suits; others who have travelled  long distances to watch a favourite band return to the fold; 'Bloc Party haven't play live since 2013. This is Bloc Party mark 2', we're told.

As is the nature of these things, this isn't simply a Bloc Party gig. Breakfast DJ, Shaun Keaveany has installed himself front row dead centre. He's the 6 Music man on the ground, the cheeky, roving reporter. We cheer when encouraged to do so because this is going to be on the red button. Keaveany chats across the ether to Lauren Laverne. She's rushing across from her studio to formally introduce Bloc Party to the stage.

Bloc Party play six tunes; four in the first half of their short set and two after they're interviewed by Laverne. Like Corbyn at PMQ, these are questions that are asked by audience members, 'the general public'. They're largely innocuous but it does give an exuberant Kele the chance to make a point. As he passes a microphone around the four piece he's very clear. Bloc Party are a unit, a band who all have equal say in how these things develop.

There are moments. At the back of the stage, six male singers have been stolen from gospel choirs. They add tone, harmony and vocal power to the rock riffs and licks. Over the top of it all, Kele sings with his mix of confident, strident charm and anguished abandon. These are very modern love songs, attempts to make sense of what it's like to still bare your soul in 2015.

It's all over too quickly and we're marched away from the studio into the underground maze that makes up Maida Vale. Tomorrow Leftfield do their thing here. It all builds up to a New Order show on Friday for which tickets are truly gold dust.

6 Music need much congratulating for enterprises such as this. Bloc Party are back and this was a fine way to announce their intent.

article by: Sean Tizzard

published: 12/10/2015 09:55

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