Bloc Party - Carling Academy, Birmingham

Touring the UK to sell-out dates after a Mercury nomination and much in the way of critical slobbering, Bloc Party have had a pretty good year. Understatement. The question is, are Kele and co. deserving of the hype? Erm, yes. Understatement.

During an opening support slot from Kaito (rip off the Yeah Yeah Yeah's much?!), the venue slowly became more and more packed until I was lost in a sea of heads. And sweat. Yup, that's right, the anticipation for the Bloc boys was so intense that, by the time they hit the stage, I felt like I'd taken a shower. Trust Kele to then declare it was the band’s mission to make the audience 'hot and sweaty'. That man doesn't break a promise…

Opening with the tender So Here We Are (a strange choice, I felt, but the moshing quotient still gave it large), the band went on to rifle through already-classic debut album Silent Alarm. Positive Tension and Banquet saw the band crackling with energy and an exuberant confidence, with some crowd members losing their Converse via crowd-surfing. The set's only weak moments came during the occasional slower number, such as Blue Light and Plans; whilst it's good for a band's sound to be diverse, it's clear that Bloc's strengths lie in their ability to crank out smart but riff-tastic angular anthems. Evidence of this came during the demonic 'red pill, blue pill' swirl of She's Hearing Voices, and the dark but delightful likes of Helicopter and Like Eating Glass. Meanwhile, anyone who denies that Little Thoughts is the perfect pop song has a (hard) slap waiting from me.

Eleven songs in, and the Party paused for a moment. No matter, as the encore was a four-song thing of perfection. Brooding Two More Years gave way to the anti-war stomp Price Of Gas which, in turn, elapsed into newie The Present and, finally, hook-laiden chant-a-long Pioneers. It was with this fantastic close that Bloc Party cemented the fact that they are here to stay, and here to make awesome music. The impromptu second encore performance of The Answer and a promise from the guys that they’ll 'see [us] next year' made things clearer still. Out of the 2005 slew of alternative indie bands that have had a moment in the sun, Bloc Party will be one of the few who see the sun in 2006 – and beyond.

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