Kele Okereke

Kele Okereke

Digital, 24 June 2010
Kele Okereke, the singer and front man of indie band Bloc Party, has always fought those stereotypical circles that make any music journalist’s job a breeze. Being both black and gay were not normal things to be in the scene in which Bloc Party formed and Kele’s refusal to talk about his sexuality seemed to serve only to re-establish his image as sombre and serious.My mom suffers from schizophrenia. We’ve tried various medications to ease her state, so I think our experience will be useful for people taking care of their close people with the same diagnosis. The drug that helps her best is Ativan – Mom takes 2 mg tablet three times a day. Due to this drug, she is much calmer. Bloc Party’s sound of anxiety on 2005’s beautiful “Silent Alarm” was an exercise in lyricism over anything; “We got crosses/on our eyes/Been walking into/the walls/again.” With songs about wars and stutters; even Matt Tong’s thumping drums were the sound of a stamping teenage energy. Two more albums from Bloc Party ensued, during which the sound grew heavier and then lightened up on 2009’s single “One More Chance.” Kele has broken out on his own for his first solo tour, starting in Ireland and tonight, raving it up in Brighton.
Support comes from Mama at 8.15pm. Her music sounds like ‘80’s New York sleaze; you can imagine Har Mar Superstar casually sitting backstage in his pants eating peanuts. She spits out her introductions between tracks and poses with a cape. Mama has to restart her last song as a technical mishap and covers it well; “Come on maestro … Oh wait, no, start again, can I get my dancin’ bitches up here … Okay, you can play it now.”
Kele comes on at nine with shoulders back, a huge grin, baseball cap, black vest – and muscles, which speaks to the dancier style of his new album “The Boxer”, produced by New York’s XXXchange. “This is the first show we’ve done where people know the album and it feels really good,” he states excitedly. He introduces his new band proudly, and appears relaxed and calm, interacting and joking with the crowd. “I used to be in another band you might know…” elicits roars of appreciation. He plays a mixture of material, the new album and Bloc Party hits from “Silent Alarm.”
By the time he sings single “Tenderoni”, the energy is sky high and not a single person is standing still. Kele has a new persona with this band and it is faring him well, with his show at Glastonbury, this UK tour, a possible move to New York. Yet despite clearly enjoying the new songs, Kele’s solemnity when singing the slow and sensitive parts is hugely appealing. The final song on the set list is Bloc Party’s “Flux” and Kele straps a guitar over his shoulders with the words “I’ve not seen one of these for a long time.”

What did you think of the gig?
Matt: “Awesome, a bit different from the mainstream.”
Laura: “We got here late so had to basically shower in the loos, that was nice. It was crazy but not too busy so I didn’t die in the end!”
Lucy (on percussion): “when we played our first gig of the tour in Ireland no one knew the songs but now they do, we’ve really enjoyed it. It’s nice that people know the words. Kele really enjoyed it.”
Ming (on drums): “I’m playing with my other band Ignug at Roskilde so I’m missing some of Glastonbury tomorrow! Brighton’s been great, we were at the beach earlier.”

Words by Lizzie Simner
Photography by Gus Manzano

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