Patrick Wolf ended up as the support on this tour because he met Kele Obereke on the tube and got chatting. It is no coincidence that two figures who still seem human are the indie-kids heroes of choice in late 2005. Neither Patrick Wolf or Kele’s band Bloc Party ever seem to be doing anything unnatural. Unlike a long list of indie bands, they seem to be trying to be good, not trying to be big and so, despite the stylistic disharmony, they make a perfect pairing on tonight’s bill.

Patrick Wolf draws a large and appreciative crowd; pity the fools who chose to stay in the bar. With a drummer and a cellist, and himself switching between a ukulele and a keyboard, Patrick plays a rousing, if somewhat ragged set. His charm is the way he latches onto a pretty melody almost as if it is by mistake. With his odd instrumentation, childlike stage presence and hand made clothes, he is open to accusations that he is a bit of a try hard. Perhaps there is an element of play acting to Patrick Wolf but when you have an anthem like ‘The Libertine’ in your arsenal, it frankly doesn’t matter.

Bloc Party, on the other hand, are rarely less than 100% serious. Their earnest posturing has irritated some people, but Bloc Party deserve praise for trying to make music that means a lot to themselves. Considering that their set at Glastonbury has been criticised by many admirers of the band, I was worried how their music would translate to the Great Hall. I have seen other bands-notably, Franz Ferdinand-fail to fill this hall with music that would have torn up an indie club. But Bloc Party pitched this perfectly and, judging by people’s reaction afterwards, impressed all kinds of fans - from casual Top 40 pop listeners to indie geeks.

Making sure the crowd are involved is much more important in a big room, and in this respect Bloc Party proved they are not indie snobs, but they didn’t go over the top either. Happy to start a wave of handclapping, they also asked the crowd to take a few steps back when the moshpit started to get out of hand.

All this would have been in vain if they didn’t have any good tunes, but luckily Bloc Party already have bundles of them. This meant they could kick out two of their best loved songs, ‘So Here We Are’ and ‘Banquet’ within the first three numbers. ‘Banquet’ was especially awesome, with its razor sharp rhythms and Kele’s vocals at the impassioned best. It is a surprise it wasn‘t a bigger hit. Of course the climax of the set was ‘Helicopter’, but the band also felt free to throw in some B-Sides.

I hadn’t seen Bloc Party before, but I am glad I caught them before they head for the really huge venues because they are a great live act. The indie snob backlash may well be heading their way-and indeed, the album is not quite the classic that some said it was-but Bloc Party look like a band that can achieve true greatness and deserve to do so.


The photographs that accompany this article orignally appeared on www.virtual-festivals.com











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Commenting On: Exeter University Great Hall, Exeter, 26/10/2005 - Bloc Party/Patrick Wolf








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