Music Review

Bloc Party’s return was taut, explosive, and full of yelps

Bloc Party singer Kele Okereke (shown in France in July) led the indie-rock band’s show Friday at the House of Blues.
FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images/file
Bloc Party singer Kele Okereke (shown in France in July) led the indie-rock band’s show Friday at the House of Blues.

Face down, the guy who was crowd-surfing looked a little bit like Superman soaring over the city. He straightened his arms, stiffened his legs, and there he went, bobbing over a sea of outstretched hands.

Bloc Party's music often has that effect. Taut and propulsive, the British indie-rock band's best songs make you feel like you're flying high, if only for a few fleeting blasts of guitar, bass, drums, and frontman Kele Okereke's yelps.

Friday night, in front of a capacity crowd at the House of Blues, Bloc Party was back in Boston for the first time since it went on hiatus in 2009. It was as if the London group's angular guitar rock had been preserved in amber — still urgent, still in your face.


Lead guitarist Russell Lissack played melodies that oscillated between trilling (the opening “Octopus’’) and circular (“Positive Tension’’). Matt Tong rarely got to catch his breath and play a downbeat on drums, and bassist Gordon Moakes added deep, rumbling textures and the occasional back-up vocals (“Waiting for the 7.18’’).

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The group is touring behind “Four,’’ its latest and first studio album in the same amount of years. The new songs were particularly heavy, sometimes veering close to thrashing hard rock. “We Are Not Good People’’ conjured a cacophony, with Okereke admirably piercing the mayhem with his vocals.

Onstage at least, Okereke is among indie rock's most noble leaders, prone to introducing the songs as if they were today’s specials at a French restaurant. He called “Ares’’ a song “for fighting to,’’ and indeed it was an inflammatory call to arms. (Never mind that both sides of the stage had signs that read “No Fighting’’ above the bar.)

Songs from Bloc Party's 2005 debut, “Silent Alarm,’’ retained all the muscle and tension that got the band noticed in the first place. “This Modern Love’’ sent the aforementioned fan sailing across hands, and “Helicopter’’ was the surefire way to send the audience home reeling.

If we’re nitpicking, Okereke’s math was comically off. After playing for 50 brisk minutes, the band returned for the show's so-called “second half,’’ which was more like 20 minutes plus two songs for an encore.


Then again, roughly an hour and 20 minutes is all you need with a band like Bloc Party. Up, up, and away.

James Reed can be reached at