Bloc Party and Drenge – NME Awards Tour Leeds 8/2/2016

drenge liveIf there’s one thing Drenge know, its chaos. Keeping the crowd writhing in anger and ensuing havoc throughout, Drenge are a riled-up beast. Eoin Loveless stutters about the stage peeling off vicious riffs with a wolfish grin on his face, whilst brother Rory is a manic blur of flailing limbs and hair, possessed to demolish all in front of him, and bassist Rob Graham remains motionless, keeping the bass grooves flowing. Eoin’s bleak vocals were impeccable throughout, adding extra anguish on ‘Fuckabout’ and ‘Let’s pretend’ in particular, not to mention his outstanding guitar work, never more evident than during the solo of ‘Undertow’ standout ‘The woods’. The addition of a bassist for their second album provides cuts from their debut album, like ‘Fuckabout’ and ‘I want to break you in half’, with an even greater wall of sonic dirge. The aforementioned ‘I want to break you in half’ birthed a gargantuan circle pit, a flaming inferno of ruin and rage, engulfing all within it. Drenge are bags of fun to watch due to their unrelenting energy, even with minimal crowd interaction, bar when Rory introduced ‘I don’t want to make love to you’ as a “Beatles cover”, much to the delight of the audience. After the brooding, crushing hopelessness of ‘Let’s pretend’ brought down the curtain, the crowd were desperate to devour more, with Drenge unfortunately playing too short a set to include fan favourites like ‘The snake’ and ‘Backwaters’.


Kele pranced about on stage all smiles as the band kicked off with ‘So only he can heal me’. Bloc Party’s set drew heavily from ‘Hymns’, which participated only to their detriment, as it was evident the vast majority weren’t there for their newer songs, but for the vitriolic anger and yearning anxiety of their first two albums. Of all the newer songs, ‘The love within’ drew the biggest reaction, baffling considering the intolerable synth was no less prominent live, making me want to rip my ears off. ‘Exes’, the best song off their new album was bizarrely overlooked, for the dire, grey sludge of ‘Fortress’, which forced itself upon the venue, smothering the crowd into submission. Louise Bartle was surprisingly fantastic at replicating the robotic perfectionism of Matt Tong, which begs the question of why the drums on ‘Hymns’ lack the punishing propulsion of previous albums, when Bartle can evidently step up to the mantle. The hidden jewels in Bloc Party’s crown were ‘Intimacy’ cuts ‘Mercury’ and ‘One more chance’, expecting these to fall lukewarm, I was pleasantly dumbfounded, gone was the washy electronic instrumentation of the studio, and in stormed a powerful array of organic instrumentation, including a baritone sax operated by Justin Harris. This completely reaffirmed my biggest gripe with the stale mediocrity of ‘Hymns’, the bland synths Kele is so transfixed upon detract from the songs, perhaps if an increased impetus on organic instrumentation was deployed on the ‘Hymns’ live songs, they wouldn’t sound so utterly forgettable. The noughties indie-rock staples justifiably produced the biggest roars of the night, with both ‘Banquet’ and ‘Helipcopter’ not even requiring Kele to sing, as the lyrics are hurled at him from all corners of the room, whilst the tender ‘Waiting for the 7:18’ and ‘This modern love’ were embraced with complete adoration. Bloc Party concluded the evening on the madcap warble of ‘Rachet’, ensuing pandemonium in the crowd as Kele demanded his army of followers to dance.

bloc party live2

Drenge undoubtedly stole the show with their unrivalled ferocity, whilst Bloc Party were by no means bad, their set smacked of a band desperate to show how they’ve “evolved”, meaning many early and frankly better tracks like “Little thoughts” and “Flux” were omitted at the expense of the lacklustre drudgery of ‘Hymns’. A few personal issues with set lists aside, the performance of both bands was a joy to watch.


Bloc Party and Drenge – NME Awards Tour Leeds 8/2/2016

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