The year 2005 wasn’t so long ago, but in the ever changing world of popular music, it’s an age away. During that era, a post-punk revival was in full swing, spearheaded by bands like Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, and Editors in the UK, and The Strokes, LCD Soundsystem, and The Rapture in the US. Bloc Party’s debut album, Silent Alarm, was one of the best of the bunch, and seemed certain to become a classic. Bloc Party has had their ups and downs since – they’ve released several more albums, but in the process have gone on hiatus multiple times and have lost two founding members.
But with the band’s audience having had nearly a decade and a half now to ruminate over that first album, the excitement was palpable when the band announced a tour playing the record in full. The Anthem in Washington, DC got one of only eight stops in the run of shows, and the District’s newest and largest club venue proved to be the band’s largest show in the area by far, dwarfing their past DC performances at the much smaller 9:30 Club. Nostalgia (and time away) is a powerful thing, apparently. With newer bassist Justin Harris (of Portland, Oregon indie-rockers Menomena) and drummer Louise Bartle in tow, original members Kele Okereke (vocals, guitar) and Russell Lissack (guitar) transported the audience back to that time.
Silent Alarm is a record front-loaded with hits, so it was probably not a surprise that the band chose to play the album backward, starting with the last track on the disc “Compliments” and working their way to the front. That put many of the band’s best-known, best-loved songs, including “This Modern Love,” “Banquet,” and “Helicopter,” toward the latter end of the show, making it much more like a regular concert. It may have been a little disconcerting to fans who know the record by heart to hear it in reverse, but the move made sense.
The band closed out the night with a long encore featuring several more songs from singles released around the same era (“Tulips,” “Two More Years”) and two songs from their follow-up album A Weekend in the City (“Hunting for Witches,” “Flux”), and closed the night with “Ratchet” from their 2013 EP The Nextwave Sessions.
Throughout the show, Bloc Party showed that they’re still a force to be reckoned with, despite their time away. Lead singer Kele Okereke has a new solo album, 2042, due in November, but after that hopefully it won’t be too long until we hear from them again.
New York dream-pop band Cults opened the show.
Bloc Party setlist
Compliments Plans Luno So Here We Are Little Thoughts Price of Gasoline The Pioneers This Modern Love She’s Hearing Voices Blue Light
Banquet Positive Tension Helicopter Like Eating Glass
Tulips Two More Years Hunting For Witches Flux Ratchet