<i>Bloc Party in Auckland</i>

01:43, Jan 31 2009
ON FIRE: Bloc Party proved why they're one of Britain's biggest musical exports during their Auckland show.

Something glorious happened when Bloc Party played at Telstraclear Stadium in Auckland. Reviewer Chris Schulz was there.

The British dance-rock act thrilled a near sell-out crowd at Auckland's Telstraclear Stadium with a set that proved exactly why they're one of England's most hyped exports.

It was Bloc Party's first visit to New Zealand, and they played like they had a very firm point to prove.

Opening with Song For Clay (Disappear Here) - the first track from their acclaimed second album A Weekend in the City - Okereke quickly won the crowd over with his exaggerated on-stage antics.

He may look more like an art-school student than the front man of a great rock band, but Okereke has a great voice that veers between crooning balladeer and fired-up punk rocker - often in the space of a single verse.

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It lit up the band's music, which is powered by drummer Matt Tong's metronomic hitting of the skins, Gordon Moakes' rumbling bass and Russell Lissack's pinpoint - and, yes, angular - guitars.

But the focus is on Okereke and his heavily-themed songs that question sexuality, British culture and modern life in London. Despite the weighty subject matter, there's a distinct effort to create songs to dance to.

That proved to be the case, as Bloc Party blasted through party-starting tracks Hunting For Witches, I Still Remember and Like Eating Glass that had fans up on their feet and shaking it like they were attending a late '90s rave.

The spectacular light show made up for the lack of glow sticks, as seizure-inducing strobes and orange bulbs lit the band up perfectly in time with the music.

The 80-minute set didn't even lose momentum when Okereke pulled a Gwen Stefani and ran into the crowd, causing chaos with stage managers as they followed him with the microphone's wires.

Time to invest in a wireless mic, ay?

There were several absolutely magic moments in a set full of them: the set-closing version of Helicopter, a stunning version of The Prayer complete with chest-hurting bass blasts, and an ear-piercing rendition of Banquet, which ended with Okereke screaming "I'm on fire".

Yes, Bloc Party most certainly are. But don't douse them in water just yet. Judging by this eclectric show, they should be burning up stages for a long time to come.


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