31ST JANUARY 2014,

Kele Okereke is a man who has made a gradual ascent of the ladder towards musical stardom, and is now just about reaching the top. Since forming the band Bloc Party in 1999 and releasing their first album Silent Alarm in 2005, Kele and the band’s popularity has risen to the point at which Bloc Party is an indie household name comparable to Franz Ferdinand, The Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead. With 3 more Bloc Party albums and one solo album (The Boxer) since the release of Silent Alarm, Kele has a lot of material under his belt. But now, with Bloc Party announcing their indefinite hiatus last year, Kele is touring on his own, and on Friday night stopped in Barcelona for a DJ set at Razzmatazz, one of Barcelona’s most well known venues, with me being lucky enough to be there to witness the evening’s events.

Razzmatazz is a club located in a former factory within the El Parc del Poblenou i Llacuna district of Barcelona, not too far from the city centre. The venue seems to attract a host of massive bands, such as Biffy Clyro, Suede, Miles Kane, Foals, Editors and many more having performed at the venue within the last 6 months, and to top it all off back in June 2012 The Stone Roses performed the first two of their reunion gigs at the venue. Needless to say, the venue has a reputation to live up too. The massive building plays host to five different rooms, with us eventually finding Kele at 3am in one of the smaller rooms, Lolita.

Despite being in one of the smaller rooms, which, as we discovered, was slightly more difficult to find without being directed, Kele’s name had attracted a big crowd and the room was full with people waiting for the man himself. As he enters the stage, the cheers gradually begin to erupt. And when he takes over and begins to play, it proves to be exactly what we had expected, whether with Bloc Party or as Kele, he has always produced music that has been fun, explosive and dancey, and that’s just what he’s giving his audience tonight. Everybody in the room is having a great time, and it seems as if Kele is as well.

I get the impression that he has a general idea of what he is going to play, but aside from that a lot of his set is improvised, making decisions based on the mood of both himself and the audience, which results in a varying set based on the energy of the people who have came to see him. A lot of Kele’s recent output has been more commonly categorized as dance, for example he recently featured on a track with Sub Focus, and this is what his set mainly consists of, heavy, powerful dance beats with gentle riffs meticulously placed over them, occasional but well timed sampling and outstandingly smooth, flawless mixing of the tracks. Although I get the feeling that Kele’s set would have been fantastic in one of the bigger rooms, my opinion is that this smaller room suited the occasion perfectly, with the room being small and compact with a lot of people filling the space, an incredible atmosphere was created, although it wasn´t a massive party, it certainly felt like it, and the credit for that should be directed towards only one person.

As the set was winding down towards it’s 4.30am finish, the crowd gradually began to dilute, for reasons of which I am unaware, but still, by the time that he finished the room was still very busy. As Kele walked off of the stage, he took the time to say hello to and take photos with some of the fans who had waited for him, including ourselves, for a name of his stature we thought it was great of him to take a few moments for the people who had supported him, showing that despite his commercial success he is still in touch with his fans.

Also just a quick word on the evening’s other headline DJ, John Digweed, From Hastings, UK, who was performing in The Loft, one of the two bigger rooms in Razzmatazz. We managed to catch about an hour of his set, and I must say it was incredible, our friends had been going on about him for weeks prior to that evening and he absolutely lived up to their hype.

I feel the need to strongly recommend that, given the opportunity, you take the time to see Kele perform one of his DJ sets, and that you visit Razzmatazz if you find yourself in Barcelona.

Thanks to Estella at Razzmatazz for organising things, And a massive happy birthday to Merit Mitt, who this would not have happened with out.

Alfi Shipp