Bloc Party at Manchester Academy – NME Awards Tour Review

0 177


By Jack Rea

The NME has had a big year. Rebranding itself as a free weekly magazine in the late months of 2015, it’s been striving to remain at the front of the music scene and keep culturally relevant. Nowadays amongst your Arctic Monkeys and Noel Gallagher you’re likely to see popstars like Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber gracing the front cover. A big part of the NME’s annual calendar is the NME awards tour, an event which showcases fresh talent from the alternative music scene. In the past it’s played host to the likes of Florence and the Machine, The Killers and recent Superbowl Halftime headliners Coldplay so these bands can really go far. For 2016 Bloc Party front the awards show after playing once before all the way back in 2005. I went along to the show at the Manchester Academy to see if they still had what it takes.

Support for the gig starts off with Manchester Grime MC Bugzy Malone. He entemaxresdefaultrs the stage with an energy and enthusiasm that sets the mood for the rest of the evening. Completely different in tone than any other act of the night, Bugzy manages to pull off a hugely enjoyable set. The excitement at playing a home show is palpable as he interacts with the audience. Holding true to the NME’s aim to discover fresh talent, this is definitely an act to watch and anybody going to Manchester’s Parklife Festival in June should check him out.

Next on the bill is nineteen year old Rat Boy from Essex. Gathering obvious comparisons to Jamie T throughout his career, he should view this as more of a compliment than a dig. Jamie T has matured in recent years and began to release music with a moodier feel. Rat Boy captures the anarchic feel of the early days, but that’s not to say his originality doesn’t shine through. The younger members of the crowd rush to the front to shout back his quick-witted lyrics about the life of teenagers growing up in 2016. It’s exciting to watch his career begin to unfold on stage and more than likely this lad will go far. Catch him while you can.

Stepping up as main support is Sheffield’s finest alternative-rock trio Drenge. In an article I wrote at the end of last year I named Drenge’s recent album Undertow as my album of the year. This gig absolutely confirmed to me that I was right. Throughout their forty minute set, they create a truly electric atmosphere holding the room in the palm of their hands. As songs build tension the crowd holds its breath, until plunging into a wild dance as Drenge unleash their powerful choruses. Live music as it should be; atmospheric and raw. As they leave its clear Bloc Party have a lot to live up to.

Bloc_Party_2009.5.29_013Now I’ll confess, before going to this gig I had limited knowledge of Bloc Party. I knew them as a mid-noughties indie band with a couple of great songs I heard in clubs from time to time. It was quite a shock to me when I went to check out recent album Hymns in preparation, that it was slow and synth heavy. The musical change surely seems to be a result of disputes within the band, which led to half of the members quitting and being replaced. The end product seems to have been met with much backlash from fans. As the band began their set with one of the catchier new songs I thought people should relax and give this stuff a chance. Over the next couple of tracks I began to sympathise with some of the angry comments I had read online. It wasn’t that it was bad, it just lacked energy, something which the previous three supports had supplied in abundance. As I began to lose interest they managed to perform a U-Turn and play “Banquet”, one of their big hits from their debut album. From this point on the band managed to reel the audience back in and remind everyone why they were worthy of headline status. By the end I was singing along and dancing with the rest of the crowd, and thankfully the final note they left on was a positive one. All in all a good performance but I’d have rather seen them on the 2005 NME tour.

About the author / 


aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More News Stories:

  • Opinion: “Our real legacy at university is the friends we make along the way”

    We all prioritise different things in life: our relationships, academic achievement, and financial success. While these can be great catalysts for short and long-term goals, making us resilient,  fixating on these goals can become overwhelming, even detrimental. Focusing on what we feel we have to achieve can make it easy to lose sight of the…

  • Reading and Leeds Festival 2024: The best bands to see this year

    Featured image: Georgina Hurdsfield Overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of choice on offer at this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. We’ve trawled the lineups to bring you a cluster of acts to watch on the August bank holiday weekend. From jungle to riotous punk, there’s a bounty of brilliant bands…

  • Film Review: The Idea of You – A sappy feel-good rom-com

    Featured image: PA Media In this sappy, heart-warming rom-com, two lovers meet at Coachella as Solène (Anne Hathaway) takes her daughter to a meet and greet at the Californian music festival. Known for her iconic roles in The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and The Princess Diaries (2001), Hathaway plays the role of a 40-year-old divorcee…

  • Travel: Tips for multi-country trips abroad while keeping your bank account happy

    Featured image: Georgia Pearson The summer break from university is approaching and conversations about travel plans can be heard across campus. But with the cost of living at a high, students and young people are looking for cheaper ways to travel this summer. Travelling to multiple countries during one trip can be a budget-friendly way…