It’s Saturday of the 6 Music Festival and Cardiff is pulsating. Gigs are happening all over town and that unquantifiable electricity permeates the air. Every venue seems to have its own theme, with the Great Hall apparently chosen by 6 Music as the festival’s ‘indie’ venue. The rest of the weekend features pillars of the indie music scene, including Pixies and Johnny Marr: tonight focuses on several more recent additions to the canon, including headliners Bloc Party.
Unfortunately, opener Beabadoobee starts things off on a somewhat sedate note. Though the 21-year old’s brand of retro grunge-pop is affable and inoffensive, the limited stage presence of her and her band makes the toothless music feel even more weightless. It could just be a generational thing – amongst the TikTok teens, Beabadoobee is a bonafide rock star. Still, it’s hard to feel her music has much-staying power.
Next up is Sports Team, who rouse the crowd from their slumber. The Cambridge-educated band have had their critics, but there’s no denying that they put on a great live show: throughout the set frontman Alex Rice is energetic and talkative, climbing the monitors and joining the crowd in the ever-active mosh pit. Motionless keyboardist Ben Mack is also especially amusing, a great counterpoint to Rice’s flamboyance. By the time they reach closing track Stanton, Sports Team have the Great Hall crowd wholly under their spell.
In comparison to the rest of the bill, headliners Bloc Party are now scene veterans. However, in recent years they seem to have wound down a little. The pandemic obviously affected this, frontman Kele Okereke explained this is only their third show since 2019. Nonetheless, the four-piece display little signs of rust, their setlist split 50/50 between fan favourites and tracks from their upcoming sixth album.
The band are obviously keen to use this event as a platform for their new music. Most are strong, particularly the resonant If We Get Caught – but this crowd are here for the classics, of which Bloc Party have many. Hunting For Witches gets the crowd going, as does the back-to-back display of indie anthems Song For Clay and Banquet.
The band then close the evening with a rapid-fire rendition of Helicopter, sending the entire crowd into a limb-throwing frenzy. Bloc Party may have gone quiet over the last few years, but on tonight’s display, they’ve got all the tools to become a dominant force in British indie music once again.
words TOM MORGAN photos TIM ALBAN
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