Thursday, July 18, 2024

Review: Kele Okereke plays an intimate show at The Sunflower Lounge

  • The Bloc Party front-man performed at The Sunflower Lounge on October 22nd
  • Support came from Sipho and Teddy Matthews
  • Kele and his openers turned the venue into a sweaty acoustic affair


Sipho warms up The Sunflower Lounge‘s chilly Sunday night crowd with some simple, acoustic songs about life, love and relationships, with much simplicity. But the real charm arrives with Teddy Matthews, who brings a Mumford And Sons-esque set with tracks about “love, breakdowns, and all that crap”. The wit and Lumineers-style delicacy of the set has the crowd firmly warmed up with beers in hand (which could explain the consistent chatter in-house whilst Matthews strums on), ready for the main act.

Teddy Matthews

Kele Okereke holds a presence in the room, owing to his crystal-clear voice, which somehow wrestles with his seemingly shy, yet unwavering and friendly demeanor. He opens his set with a few acoustic numbers from the latest album. They are brutal lyrics about lost love, complimented with precise, clear enunciation adding to the intensity of the tracks. The crowd are now silent and paying Okereke their undivided attention with the odd cheer mid-song: “Are you free on Sunday? Forget those Brexit blues” getting big reactions from the crowd.

Kele Okereke

The crowd are treated to four of Bloc Party covers, ‘Blue Light’, ‘Exes’, ‘This Modern Love’ and the set closer, ‘Sunday’, as well as Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Landslide’ and Sweet Female Attitude’s ‘Flowers’, which gets the room singing along, and a massive cheer at the end of the song. Okereke is clearly humbled by the crowd’s affection. The London-based musician strums a wrong note midway through the track and laughs it off with a “fucked it up”, before lovingly inviting the crowd to come closer because he doesn’t bite (unless you ask him to!).

Kele Okereke

The Bloc Party frontman continues to guide the audience through his set, with pretty acoustic numbers that depict vivid stories of hurt and love, as well as the already-mentioned covers getting a great reaction from the audience. Nearing the end of his set, and missing the encore because the backstage area was behind the crowd, he covers ‘Redemption Song’ by Bob Marley, fondly recalling his parents playing it in car journeys to see family. He then congratulates the Brummie audience on being his “most fun” on the tour so far, before finishing the set with his closing cover of ‘Sunday’ to rapturous applause from his captivated audience.

Photographs by Zoe Shannon

Declan Bowring

Gig and album reviewer + culture writer, celebrating the best of music and events happening throughout our city.