Bloc Party leave fans buzzing with intense Palladium gigs

When I heard the announcement that Bloc Party was coming to Hollywood to play their critically acclaimed debut album Silent Alarm in its entirety, I admit, I may have shrieked a little in excitement.  The British indie band have always been one of my favorites and Silent Alarm is an album that sparks so many good memories for me. The album, which was named Album of the Year in 2005 by NME, is pure magic.  I’ve seen Bloc Party perform before, but I knew this show was going to be nothing short of epic and I could not wait!

For some people, “album” tours may seem gimmicky, but for me, it’s an absolute treat to hear your favorite album played from start to finish (or in this case finish to start) because often times at concerts there’s always a few songs left out that you wish the band would play and rarely do, if ever.  Going into a celebration or anniversary show, you know you’re going to hear all the classics along with those deep cuts that aren’t typically performed and it’s a really special experience for long time fans.     

As I walked into the sold out Hollywood Palladium, there was such a positive vibe going on, the excitement was infectious.  Fans anxiously awaited for the album opener “Like Eating Glass” but were quickly surprised when the band took the stage and started the night instead with the closing song of the album “Compliments.”  The hazy, slower paced number still had the crowd buzzing with joy. And soon, as the set continued on, I realized they were playing the album in reverse order. Sweet! I thought it was a clever move, considering the opening songs of Silent Alarm pack the biggest punch and playing it backwards would build up the night for the biggest climax possible.  

Original members,  lead singer Kele Okereke and guitarist Russell Lissack, were joined by newer members, bassist Justin Harris and drummer Louise Bartle (both whom joined in 2015), and were so tight together, if you didn’t know better you’d think they had been bandmates since the beginning.  Especially during songs like “Positive Tension,” which is so reliant on the rhythm section to bring it to life, both new members proved to be perfect additions.  

It was my first time seeing the reconfigured band, and they crushed it!  They all brought their A- game with them for this special show. I was totally impressed with how amazing and talented each member of the quartet is.  Okereke has a charismatic and captivating stage presence, and his vocals were spot on. Bartle was mesmerizing to watch, as she pounded out the drumbeats and killed it for each and every song.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s just something so damn cool and swoon worthy about female drummers. Her intensity was electrifying and I heard multiple people in the audience comment on how bad ass the drummer was.  Truth! If anyone doubted the new make up of the band and wondered if they could emulate the raw energy of Silent Alarm, this show would put those doubts to rest.   

The crowd sang along to every song and danced their beautiful asses off all night.  As the set headed towards the first tracks of the album, the crowd grew more frantic.  “Banquet” ignited an epic dance party that continued on for the remaining songs. “Helicopter” had the audience cheering madly and when the crescendo of “Like Eating Glass” began, everyone was at their ultimate high and it was a sight to see.  The packed house shouted out the first line in unison, “It’s so cold in this house” (which felt ironic since it was hot as balls in the venue at this point) and continued to shout out the lyrics with so much joy and energy til the very end.

The band took a quick break and returned to play a few more fan favorites including “Two More Years,” “Hunting for Witches,” “The Prayer,” Flux,” and “Ratchet.”  It was one of the best shows I’ve experienced, and I’ve been on a Bloc Party kick ever since the show. Damn, what an epic night! 

Words and photos by Betsy Martinez