Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ON, September 10
The London four-piece are back after a four-year hiatus that included solo forays and breakup rumours, so a song that aims at reconciliation -- albeit an ill-fated one -- proved particularly appropriate. Initially released as the final pre-hiatus single, the track's slightly odd mix of incessant, 1980s dance-pop keys and angular guitars brings together two disparate sides of a combo known for their sporadic identity crises. And it has aged surprisingly well.
Bloc Party made their bones with Silent Alarm's infectious, dance-inflected, spiky post-post-punk before trying on a range of other guises. The underrated A Weekend in the City and the oft-maligned Intimacy have a sonic and thematic gulf between them -- the former is personal and thoughtful, the latter brashly raucous -- and they're typically written off wholesale as "not Silent Alarm."
When Four arrived last month with shades of the debut, a handful of observers cited it as a return to form though it only yields flashes of vintage Bloc Party. However, juxtaposed with Weekend and Intimacy, it brought out the finer points of the two other records. It's the John A. MacDonald of albums.
Leadoff and most recent release, "Octopus," hit repeat on its hyperkinetic melody, introducing a prevalent theme (i.e., persistence). With its playful guitar run and Matt Tong's virtuoso drumming, "Trojan Horse" was an early standout. Furthermore, "Hunting for Witches," with its shout-along chorus and fuzzed-out guitar, awakened a so-far sedate crowd. And "Positive Tension" and its "so fucking useless crescendo" kicked off the mosh pit and crowd surfing.
Essentially, the gig was a taster plate, and it did a phenomenal job of blending disparate sounds, epoch, and experiments while still packing an emotional punch (blame the always reliable "This Modern Love," a thoughtful "Sunday" and pensive slow-burner "Day Four").
Songs culled from the new album largely benefitted from the live treatment. On disc, "Kettling" comes across as an ill-advised grunge dalliance. Turns out it's a grower of a song, and it let Okereke show off his finest vocal work, distorted guitar be damned. Still, even the most ardent apologist can't make much of a case for "Coliseum." With its grossly overweight guitars, the track was a hulking mess that played like sloppy Big Wreck.
Luckily, that type of gaffe was an anomaly in a rousing set that spanned the entire catalogue and offered both atypical highlights (a "We Found Love"-prefaced "Flux") and can't miss old favourites (closer "Helicopter").
ReviewsOct 04, 2015
Patrick Watson / Blood and GlassMacEwan Ballroom, Calgary AB, October 3
Montreal's Patrick Watson and his band played the MacEwan Ballroom at the University of Calgary last night (October 3), blending lush orches...
ReviewsOct 03, 2015
Taylor SwiftRogers Centre, Toronto ON, October 2
Rolling through town for the first of two sold out shows in support of her aforementioned pop juggernaut, Taylor Swift's "1989 World Tour" s...
ReviewsOct 02, 2015
Destroyer / Jennifer CastleTheatre Fairmount, Montreal QC, October 1
In theory, Destroyer's latest full-length Poison Season — part chamber pop, and part Sinatra-inspired ballads infused with '70s rock ...
ReviewsOct 02, 2015
BattlesLee's Palace, Toronto ON, October 1
Experimental post-rock power trio Battles played a host of songs from their most recent album, La Di Da Di, as well as a few from their prev...
ReviewsOct 01, 2015
Chelsea Wolfe / MammiferRickshaw Theatre, Vancouver BC, September 30
A dark shadow washed over the room as Seattle's Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner unfurled their Mammifer compositions, spiritually entangled ...
ReviewsSep 30, 2015
Lianne La Havas / Charlotte Cardin / Keenan O'MearaCorona Theatre, Montreal QC, September 29
Lianne La Havas has found her niche, and she's working it hard. Once a folk singer with tinges of a little R&B and soul, her band was a full...
ReviewsSep 28, 2015
Salt N Pepa / En Vogue / Maestro Fresh Wes / Fat JoeEcho Beach, Toronto ON, September 27
They wore the jackets. Those customized S-N-P leather 8-ball jackets: yellow, red, black, green and white, bold and baggy, as if snatched...
ReviewsSep 26, 2015
Godspeed You! Black EmperorDanforth Music Hall, Toronto ON, September 25
The link between classical music and Montreal post-rock iconoclasts Godspeed You! Black Emperor is one not explored frequently enough but, a...