Gig Review
Bloc Party
Tommy Sparks, Wet Paint
Wolverhampton, Civic Hall
31st January 2009

Bloc Party                     Tommy Sparks    Wet Paint    
Photo Of Tommy Sparks © Copyright Helen WilliamsArriving at the Civic Hall, I relived fond memories of some of my favourite gigs there. It’s a fantastically spacious venue, which somehow manages to retain a feeling of intimacy. The small but increasing crowd already seemed to be buzzing with excitement in anticipation of the night to come.

Luckily we managed to escape sitting in our balcony seats, and made our way to the foot of the stage, not long before the lights began to dim. The opening supports, Wet Paint, were a somewhat disappointing beginning to the evening. There was nothing offensive about their music, but it lacked any excitement, and the stationary band members did little to entertain the gathering crowd either. They appeared out of their depth, and totally out of place as a Bloc Party support, lacking both the energy and the musical prowess of the acts to come. Unfortunately, their grunge/new wave style did little to complement the main act itself, and it left me wondering who had chosen them to tour with the band, and more importantly, why? After a mercifully short set, they thanked their few supporters, and exited the stage.

Photo Of Tommy Sparks © Copyright Helen WilliamsThe room was reaching full capacity by the time Tommy Sparks took to the stage. A solo artist, with a supporting band, he delivered a charismatic and entertaining set. The crisp, clean guitar riffs, and clever composition were much more in the vein of Bloc Party, and the crowd responded well to their varied tracks. Sadly, after a strong start, the standard of their material started to slip, and my attention began to wane. Having said that, Tommy had pulled in an impressive crowd of his own dedicated fans, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this act sees more success in the coming year.

After a long wait, and plenty of failed attempts to encourage the band on stage with chants of “Bloc Par-ty!”, Kele, Matt, Gordon, and Russell entered amid dramatic flashes of light and heavy smoke, and launched immediately into ‘One Month Off’.

Photo Of Bloc Party © Copyright Helen WilliamsKele provided plenty of banter between songs, and the atmosphere was light and happy. He even commented on the ridiculous dancing styles of some of their fans, and encouraged them to exaggerate even further. I’m certain there wasn’t a straight face in the place, and even those in the balcony seats were on their feet, dancing with abandon.

Previously, I’d only been a casual listener to Bloc Party, and found their tracks somewhat samey and dare I say it, slightly bland. I’m sure if I’d expressed my opinion to anyone in that room, I’d have been lynched immediately. I’m happy to admit that I was blown away by their performance, and have to concede that they are an incredible act to see perform live.

One of the highlights for me was ‘Biko’, from the unpopular third album, ‘Intimacy’. There’s nothing I love more than listening to thousands of voices singing along to the same soaring melodies. It was a far cry from some of the more upbeat numbers, but I welcomed the variety, and what it might have lacked in energy, it made up for in passion. Of course, they played plenty of old favourites too – ‘Helicopter’, ‘The Prayer’ and ‘Flux’ to finish.

Photo Of Bloc Party © Copyright Helen WilliamsThey gave in abundance to their greedy fans – their set lasted a full hour and a half, but didn’t drag at any point. They even came back for not one, but two encores – the second saw plenty of unsuspecting fans running back into the room to lap up more of the atmosphere. As the band finally left, and we began to filter out, Dirty Dancing’s ‘Time Of My Life’ was played loudly over the speaker system, echoing the joyful mood of everyone there, and even prompting some of the bouncers to dance along. I’m sure everyone there that night, and those that missed out this time around, will be happy to hear that Bloc Party have just announced an extensive UK tour in October.

Wet Paint – 2/5
Tommy Sparks – 3/5
Bloc Party – 5/5

Review By Helen Williams
 Bloc Party

Kele Okereke (guitar, vocals),
Russell Lissack (guitar),
Gordon Moakes (bass)
Matt Tong (drums).

 Tommy Sparks

Tommy Sparks

 Wet Paint

James Wignall
Melinda Bronstein Babak ganjei Laurie Earle

 Band Related Links
Bloc Party Myspace
Tommy Sparks Myspace
Wet Paint Myspace
 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?