Bloc Party

Mike Mantin 10/10/2004

2004 is the year of the jerk. Already, The Futureheads have put in an (if not the) album of the year with a debut that moves like a toddler who's just slurped an orange squash and E cocktail, arty types Franz Ferdinand have been the breakthrough success of the year and London's thriving art-rock scene has spawned a number of bands itching with quality tunes and jumpy riffs. Tonight marks standout scene band Bloc Party's stab at the big time. Fresh from their very first US tour, Bloctober (as Kele puts it) begins with a sell-out and very appreciative crowd at Brighton's premier venue, the Concorde2. It's your typical lot: swooning teenage girls at the front desperate for a glimpse of indie-pin-up-in-waiting Kele Okereke, skinny t-shirted nodding cool kids at the sides. Everyone, however, is smug that they've caught a band that may be playing arenas in a year's time in such an intimate venue.

Fresh from being bewildered by support act The Mystery Jets (who boast 10-minute epics about lions and a guitarist who looks like a pervy ex-kids' TV presenter), Bloc Party arrive- instantly likeable- with smiles and slightly embarrassed shuffling. They open with an album track: a barrage of fuzzy, unconventional chord changes with Kele's smooth vocals just about audible over the top of it. The sound could be better but the tunes are detectable. A couple of songs later, the balance is equalised and the band unleash some of 2004's most memorable singles. First is She's Hearing Voices, instantly recognisable from its loud, pounding drum beat which forms the base of an effortlessly dark and sleek classic. Little Thoughts is inexplicably tucked away mid-set but remains their masterpiece. Kele and floppy-fringed Russell duke it out as to who's got the highest and fastest guitar riff before they merge into each other and give way to the anthemic chorus. They don't stop there: following the breakthrough hit, unfamiliar ones come thick and fast. The likes of Price Of Gasoline and Staying Fat are much more than hastily-written b-sides: they've got just as much charisma, quality hooks and unusual lyrical themes as radio-attractive anthem Banquet and frantic next single Helicopter.

Bloctober has kicked off with an absolute triumph. With any luck, it should be the springboard to an even higher grade of success than the feeling of videotaping 500 equally passionate fans cheering your every move. But they're so much more than another bunch cool, good-looking Londoners banging out arty rock from The Scene. These pin-ups can play.