The beauty of a venue like Church really lies in its acoustics. The high, vaulted walls are really designed to make even the smallest sounds fill the room, providing you know how to work the space, and no-one does this better than ex-Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke. It’s a small intimate gig, very low-key for a Friday night in Leeds (which even Kele seems surprised by) but that just seems to make it all the more special. It’s just Kele, his guitar, and his smooth, gentle vocals filling the place with warmth.
Opening act Josh Flowers does a good job of warming up the crowd, deftly splicing the sadder acoustic songs such as ‘Silver Medal’ in between the more upbeat, toe-tappers like ‘Car You Drive’. It gives us the perfect flavour of what’s to come, and by the time Kele comes onstage we’re ready to hear the gentle opening strums of ‘Streets Been Talking’. It’s the type of song that calls to mind a journey, with a steady, plodding rhythm that makes you feel like you’re walking down a long country lane. The first line, “From the Palace of Versailles / To the streets of Peckham Rye” only hammers this home, really giving us a sense of travelling back to a ‘Fatherland’.
The simplicity of the set makes the gig all the more personal and really lets us bask in every emotion evoked in his songs. Nowhere is this more pertinent than in ‘You Keep On Whispering His Name’, which is fairly light and hopeful on the album, but here we can see it’s tinged with bitterness. Letting the last chords of each song ring out on his guitar, every pause is heavy with meaning, every breath hitched an indication of something deeper. Kele closes the show with a Bloc Party classic, ‘Sunday’ and as everyone sings or hums along to the refrain “I love you in the morning / When you’re still hungover”, it’s clear that we’re all sharing in something truly special.
Photo Credit: Out.com