LIVE REVIEW: Bloc Party, Drenge, Rat Boy, Bugzy Malone @ O2 Academy, Newcastle (04.02.16) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Bloc Party by Katy Blackwood

The slowly-gathering crowd are rowdy already as grime artist Bugzy Malone provides a refreshing start to the night. The NME Awards Tour line-ups normally consist solely of indie/alternative acts so it’s nice to see something a bit different. It’s evident that he already has a gathering behind him as a select few are already chanting away to his songs. This is clearly a man who knows how to get a crowd fired up, and I think it’s highly likely we’ll be seeing more of him in the future.

Next up are Rat Boy. They’ve amassed something of a cult following in the last year or so; I’ve always had my preconceptions about them and always thought of them as rather cocky and ignorant, but it’s hard not to dance along to their baggy-ish odes to working class life-although they do seem a bit odd coming from boys who barely look 18.

Although I can’t appreciate Rat Boy’s surfy pop-rock fully, it’s clear that they have a large group of people that do, judging by the amount of sing-alongs and some Beatlemania-esque screams at the end of the set.

This Is the second time I’ve seen Drenge, and I’m always impressed at how much ferocity they bring to each performance. Their set covers a good mix of tracks from both albums – not that you have much time to think about this due to the constant jostling of the crowd. Ending with the gloomy-turns-stormy Let’s Pretend, something makes me feel that Drenge could be appearing at the top of the bill in years to come.

BLOC PARTY GIG Drenge by Katy Blackwood__1454937197_128.65.101.133

Drenge by Katy Blackwood

Bloc Party are a band I’ve like since primary school (honestly) but tonight is my first time seeing them, so my expectations are pretty much through the roof before I even arrived at the show.

Opening with The Good News, a track from latest albums Hymns, leaves me feeling a bit deflated at first. The almost-country track leaves the crowd at a standstill, and the atmosphere remains fairly stationary for the first third of the set or so, with only a few die-hard fans singing along to new material. Even throughout this part of the show, it’s amazing to see how much emotion frontman Kele Okereke puts into his vocals – even though the music is fairly lighthearted, it always feels as though there’s something much darker behind it.

Mercury finally sees some action, shortly before one of the band’s biggest hits, Banquet, finally gets a good majority of the crowd going. Stand-alone single One More Chance is one of the band’s dancier efforts, while it’s the nostalgia-inducing Waiting For The 7:18 that also induces tears prior to the encore.

Another new track is played, before the pulsing start of Flux signals the start of the band’s sound morphing into something more electronic, and provides a stark contrast to the penultimate track of the night, Helicopter. The main riff of the song and opening lines seem to have cemented themselves into the history of alternative music and it gets the best reaction from the crowd all night.

Final track Ratchet is a spirited ‘night out with your mates’ sort of song, and the perfect way to bring the night to a close – it even appeared that a few dance-offs formed.

A rather varied night of music, then. It seems like this year’s tour aimed to appeal to a wide array of music tastes. And we’re Bloc Party worth the 8/9 year wait? Absolutely.

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