Is it sacrilegious to drink Guinness out of a plastic cup? Probably, but such idle thoughts were interrupted by yet another localised beer shower tumbling from above. Yes this was Brixton Academy: corridors that reek of vomit, toilets that house large puddles of the unthinkable and acoustics so uneven that even Aretha Franklin would struggle to sound good. But it also happened to be the venue for the final date in Bloc Party‘s national tour, so what can you do?
Opening proceedings were the sextet Redjetson, who arrived on stage armed with epic songs about the drudgery of modern life. Filling out the stage through strength of numbers, Redjetson’s lead singer Clive Kentish straddled the microphone stand and held on for dear life, though the – count them – four guitarists that flanked him kept their stage movements to a bare minimum. Sadly in such a large venue the intricacies of their songs were drowned out by the sheer volume of the band. This is a shame because for those willing to be patient with Redjetson there is a certain charm in their music – it just wasn’t particular evident on the night.
Norwich band Kaito provided a more interesting proposition, their spiky art punk a welcome relief after the bombast of Redjetson. A good vocal performance from Nikki Colt brought to mind Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, her primal delivery backed up by a solid rhythm section and bursts of sharp lead guitar. Theirs was a compelling if not universally well-received performance; nevertheless Kaito retain a certain freshness in their sound that sets them apart from quite a few of their contemporaries.
Having made unlikely heroes out of drummer Matt Tong and lead guitarist Russell Lissack, Bloc Party provide a necessary antithesis to the macho rock posturing of bands such Oasis. Launching straight into the lovely So Here We Are, with its melancholic lyrics, rolling drum beat and gentle guitar melody, they capably demonstrate that sometimes the best songs are the simplest ones. Listening to tracks such as Banquet you understand that this is a band that takes their music very seriously indeed and have the requisite talent and confidence to pull off nearly everything they try.
For a relatively new band their understanding of rock dynamics is impressive and the drumming and guitar were never short of brilliant. Sadly the vocals suffered somewhat due to the unfriendly venue, especially on tracks such as Little Thoughts. But this is Brixton and that’s just part of the deal; with two stage divers, endless crowd surfers and a confetti cannon finalé these were but minor quibbles on a fine evening with a band who genuinely are one of Britain’s brightest musical hopes.