Bloc Party – the British indie-rock band, not to be confused with the political party – are in Edmonton on Tuesday, September 25 to play a show at the Edmonton Event Centre in support of their new album, Four.
WHERE Edmonton interviewed Bloc Party bassist Gordon Moakes about their tour and upcoming show in Edmonton. Moakes was very pleased to hear about the lovely, warm fall weather Edmonton is currently experiencing, and says the band is looking forward to returning to Canada for a series of shows before heading back to the UK.
The band returned to the music scene earlier this year after a brief hiatus; when the band announced their break in 2009 and most of the band members went to work on various side projects, rumours swirled that Bloc Party had permanently disbanded. This, apparently, was never the case. Moakes suggests that there was never a question of whether or not the band would make another album; rather, the question was about when the band would be able to work most effectively together and have a good energy to make the sort of fourth record they could be proud of:
“We knew there should be another album . . . it was just about timing,” Moakes tells WHERE. “[The break] was definitely necessary at that time. We just weren’t functioning as a group. We could have made the record but we wouldn’t have enjoyed making it. We would have just been thinking about other things; and with the time off we got to do those things . . . we got to make the sort of music that wouldn’t have been possible with the band. Being able to do that and to have time away was really good. The record we would have made [before the break] would have been disastrous. The time away was good for everyone . . . When making the record we came back as equals and it was an enjoyable experience which led to a much better record”.
In regards to their current tour, Moakes indicates that the band doesn’t have a rigid set list they follow, because what they do best is “just play”. At the Edmonton show on Tuesday, fans can expect to hear songs from Bloc Party’s new album Four, their previous records and, if the band feels like it, perhaps some B-side rarities:
When asked if there is a song that the band always gets requests to play, Moakes laughs and immediately knows the answer: “Yes, there’s this ongoing thing with our super fans. They always ask for this song “Skeleton”,” he says, sounding amused but also very pleased. “It’s a B-side from one of our first releases… can’t remember which one… but it’s a track that didn’t make it on to Silent Alarm. But we still get asked to play it. There’s always one hard core fan in the audience that shouts it out. We play it now and again, not all the time, when there’s a good mood going and a responsive crowd”.
I asked Moakes whether the band finds it flattering to see fans taking photos and videos during their shows, knowing that these media will likely be shared on YouTube and social media platforms; he responded with an amusing anecdote about his wife insisting on filming everything at their children’s birthday parties, and then explained: “it’s the same at shows. We see kids in the front row filming, and I’m thinking ‘Why don’t you just listen?’” He then continues to question why it is that people feel the need to record concerts to replay or watch later, when they are at the very concert and can see and hear everything in much better quality than is possible from a recording, and miss out on the concert while they focus on getting the camera settings just right. “But that’s just the way it is,” Moakes admits. “We check YouTube once in awhile to see how the live shows go over. I see the point of people sharing it. When we’re on a six month tour we know the song backwards because we’ve played it so many times, but your fans only see you once”.
The band still has an eager fan following and seems to be having a great time on their current tour. Still, rumours persist that the band has auditioned new vocalists for when lead singer Kele leaves the band. The future of the band is still uncertain – but isn’t that the case for any musical act? A number of, sometimes unpredictable, factors determine an artist’s place in the music and entertainment scene, and perhaps all of those factors haven’t been revealed or considered by the band at this time. Knowing this is an issue that Bloc Party rarely or tepidly addresses, I abstained from asking questions that probe about the band’s future. Besides, concern with “what’s next” for a band that has a new album and is currently touring seems to be equivalent to the urge for fans to take photos and videos during a live performance; Bloc Party and their music can be enjoyed here and now, so for the time being, let’s “just listen”.
Bloc Party plays at the Edmonton Event Centre at West Edmonton Mall tonight. Tickets are $46.75, incl. fees, and can be purchased at the venue or online. Show starts at 7 pm with opening act Ceremony.
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