Bloc Who?

Despite the fact that I’m currently in the middle of exams which will determine my degree and I should therefore be either studying or sleeping right now, I feel obliged to share what I have just witnessed. Kele‘s performance in Cork’s Cyprus Avenue may just be the best gig I have ever attended.

First off due reference must be made to the support act, MAMA. I’ve never been to, nor do I ever intend to go to, a live sex show but if I think I can rest assured that the eroticism of MAMA’s live show isn’t far off. From her semi-transparent leotard to her suggestive dancing and not forgetting her explicit lyrics, this was a performance dripping with sensuality. Once I got over my initial curiosity, particularly regarding the bald girl and skinny girl on either side of MAMA whose sole contribution came in the form of bursts of hypnotic dancing, I realised that there was an addictive brand of low-fi electro-pop reverberating around the venue. Cyprus Avenue is not an easy place for support acts to come and win crowds over but by the end of her set at least half of the congregation was shouting and clapping, the other half were too busy trying to hide the stalk in their pants.

Then came Kele. With a new batch of friendly faces surrounding him the charismatic frontman hopped on stage to a deafening reception from the sold out venue. The music kicked off with some body-grooving electronic beats and hand claps but before we had even gotten a chance to make a premature judgment of this new musical venture an elctro-bomb was dropped and the place erupted.

By the time the second frantic floor-filler (alliteration eh?) crashed to a halt the crowd was hooked. The set progressed with a mixture of pop, elctro and in places afro-beat but no matter how quiet things got there was always a baseline simmering in the background, effectively making each tune a ticking bomb. Bloc Party had this special ability to glide from one distinct sound into another, Kele has taken this into his new project as all progressions from loud to hushed and frenetic to mellow are seemless.

The atmosphere of the performance was captured when half way through the set Kele announces, “well, this is going ok isn’t it.” Having expressed his gratitude for such a turn out at a gig where the songs were basically unknown, Kele treated the fans to an electronic mashup of Bloc Party favourites. If the place was rocking before, this mix of Blue Light, The Prayer and One More Chance tested the endurance of the compact venue. With such an explosive response to these familiar tunes this was the perfect time to drop Tenderoni, the single currently shooting up the indie charts.

I struggle to recall a gig in Cyprus Avenue greeted with such enthusiasm and general mayhem. What made it so special was the instant impact made by songs previously unheard. Jumping and fist-pumping was accompanied by attempts to chant along with songs made for call and response live shows, and if you got the lyrics wrong, who gives a fuck, nothing could spoil a performance like this.

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