Bloc Party – review

Academy, Leeds

When Bloc Party first emerged in 2005, they were seen as such archetypal indie drips that Noel Gallagher witheringly compared them to contestants on University Challenge. Now, though, after a three-year hiatus, and with indie rock seemingly dying on the vine, the band have returned looking and sounding as if they are determined to stop such older boys kicking sand in their faces.

Vocalist Kele Okereke is visibly bulked up. Guitarist Russell Lissack has kept his indie shy-boy angular haircut, but in sound if not mane is clearly undergoing a spiritual transformation into a long-locked marauding Viking warrior. At times, his torrents of Metallica-type noodling – delivered at ear-splitting volume – turn this Party into the implausible prospect of a heavy metal Cure.

Bloc Party gigs never used to be this rowdy, but beery chants of "Yorkshire!" encourage Okereke to unveil his carefully selected compilation of boxing metaphors, promising they are about to get even tougher and asking, "Have you got any fight left in you, Leeds?"

Every so often, brawn threatens to outmuscle brain, and the band's trademark softer textures – Lissack's pretty, cascading guitar notes and Okereke's wounded falsetto – struggle to be heard above sonic barrages and a shirt-free Matt Tong on drums. However, the song Truth, from their new album Four, is lovely, the almost hardcore We're Not Good People makes more sense live than it does on record and old favourites sound thoroughly revitalised.

Flux – with a dip into Rihanna's We Found Love – is a swirling electro waltz. One More Chance, The Prayer and Helicopter prompt audience pandemonium. There's a lovely moment when someone brings a cake out for Okereke's 31st and the crowd sing Happy Birthday. After longstanding rumours of souring relations, a group hug at the end suggests a band enjoying the opportunity to climb back into the ring.

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Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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