All You Gods and Goddesses: Bloc Party @ First Avenue

Bloc Party
May 4th, 2009
First Avenue, Minneapolis

“Hello, Minneapolis! We almost didn’t make it.”

Kele Okereke shouted this from the stage last night from First Avenue right after they finished their opening number, “One Month Off” from their new album Intimacy. One month off indeed. Bloc Party was originally scheduled to play 1st Ave on March 30th in what was to be the kick off for my six date Brit Rock Spring Wank with gentle ball cupping (Keane and Doves still to come). When they canceled due to Kele losing his voice, I checked their tour schedule to see if they could swing back through at a later time. I saw several dates in Canada and since we are basically part of that country, I thought it still could happen.

It did.

And it was bloody marvelous.

Right off the bat one could see that the boys in the band felt bad for missing us on the original date. Kele promised a thunderous AND extended set. They fucking delivered playing nearly all of their new album and several tracks from their first two albums. Since I missed them the first and only other time they came through in 2005, it was great to hear them play “Blue Light”, “Like Eating Glass” and “Positive Tension” from Silent Alarm; and “Flux” from A Weekend in the City really got the pit swaying around.

In addition to fantastic performances of “Mercury”, “Ares” and “The Prayer”, Kele and the rest of the lads charmed the crowd… carrying on conversations with people in the audience, flirting with girls (natch!) and chastising people for walking out during the encore which saw “She’s Hearing Voices” tacked on just for us Minneapolitans.

This last bit prompted Kele to say, “Alright, that’s it! I’m coming out there.” And he did…gloriously allowing all of us to body pass him around the pit and eventually to stage left where he proceeded to run up the steps to the upper level! He paused  on the area of the steps that has always been known to elicit cries from staff saying, “You can’t stand here, dude!” Well, he not only stood there, but found a woman to dance with – continuing to run around all areas of the club with the roadie following behind him, frantically trying to give him more slack on the mic cable.

Sure I would’ve liked to hear “Biko” from the new record and my fave Bloc Party tune “Tulips” (a shiver and a sigh), but the energy from the band and the crowd more than made up for it. Sadly, this is the last North American show for Bloc Party. They are off to Europe though, so all you Ickmusic readers there should go to see them. It will be a corker!

Links: Bloc Party’s Official Site | MySpace

Buy their latest: Intimacy

Take Me Out!: Franz Ferdinand @ First Avenue

First Avenue was packed Tuesday night April 28th as the lads from Glasgow took the stage. Franz Ferdinand has always been a real pleasure to see live. I had only seen them one other time–at the Fine Line in 2004–on their first tour of the US. In addition to putting on a high energy show back then, I got to hang out with several burly local Scots who were wearing kilts…the way you are supposed to wear them:)

Alex, Nick, Bob, and Paul opened up their set last Tuesday with “Jacqueline,” a slow ballad that shifts into high energy about one quarter of the way through. Immediately, we all knew we were in a for a visual treat as the immense video screens kicked on in the back and proceeded to bombard us with high def images of such beauty and wonderment that I must admit I got a some late evening wood.

As they went from song to song, the visuals changed…sometimes showing band members…other times showing certain images that reflected both the theme and the style of the song. This was not simply tech geeks getting off with their new Mac. This was ART. And it was not spoon fed to us.

They played songs from all three of their albums focusing primarily on their new record “Tonight” which has several great tunes. “No You Girls,” “Ulysses,” and “Turn it On” were all played and sounded magnificent. Of course, old chestnuts like “Tell Her Tonight” and “Michael” torqued up the crowd…the frenzy of which was reached when we all shouted take me out during….”Take Me Out.”

The encore contained a track called “Lucid Dreams” which brought even more stunning visuals on the back drop and propelled all of us into the year 1967 as the chaps summoned the spirit of Syd Barrett to downtown Minneapolis. I remarked to my friends in attendance with me that I never would’ve pegged Franz as going down the psychedelic road, but they did–and in their own femmy dork style.

They closed with “This Fire” and sent all out into the night to burn our city down–metaphorically of course. I know that I did and in the process have become a different man.

Thank God.

For the next two weeks they will be playing dates out east. Check their web site for more information.

Link: Official Site