Music editor Greg Woodin examines the R&B baritone's bewilderingly brilliant visual album.Written by Greg Woodin on 21st August 2016
Live Review: Blur
With the Olympics Opening Ceremony around the corner, Redbrick Music caught Blur's warm up gig, and it was a delight.
The Wolverhampton Civic Hall hosted a preparation for a large-scale comeback performance in London's Hyde Park, but anyone who partied on as Blur warmed their vocal chords would tell you that the intimate 2 hour set was unmissable in itself, a treat more than a try-out.
Support duo The Bots (more appropriate name would be The Tots, youngest member being fourteen!) opened the show with a brave attempt at rock and roll, giving the raucous Midlanders something to bop their heads to. However, a trip to the bar to replenish and rehydrate with cheap beer would not have been a wasteful act, especially with what was to follow.
The moment that the backing for ‘Girls and Boys’ boomed through the Civic, the atmosphere was tangible for every second that Damon and his boys took the stage. The renowned repetitive number got every person of every age shouting and jumping, making up for every year Blur had spent separated and denying any rumours of reunion. Damon’s explosive snarl of ‘Tracy Jacks’ sent the crowd into a limb-shaking frenzy, every individual echo of ‘woo-ooh-ooh-ooh’.
Parklife favourite ‘Jubilee’, the bassline of Beetlebum and the ultimate indie anthem ‘Coffee and TV’ sent every fan into another level of euphoria as they once again experienced the performance talent that had sold albums upon albums in the 90s, and had left such a silence since band’s split. ‘Country House’ and ‘Parklife’ itself saw an absolute rupture within the sweaty crowd, every individual screaming back every word, swaying and jumping to every beat.
The continued genius of Damon’s songwriting was proven outright with the awesome reception of new track ‘The Puritan’, already familiar to the most loyal of fans. ‘Song 2’ saw in what can only be described as complete and utter madness, two minutes of absolutely unbridled madness. Damon and the boys were in their element, by this stage in the night undoubtedly playing from memory of their 90s Britpop shows alone and unbelievably humbled by the crazed crowd.
“Tears fell, beer was thrown, and generations came together to watch proof that it really really really could happen, all over again.
A trio of anthems foregrounded the textbook tantalizing wait for the encore, heartbreaking ‘No Distance Left To Run’, emotional ‘Tender’ and timeless ‘This Is A Low’ building an incline into a massive 6-track encore. After a combination of familiar ‘Sing’, new ‘Under The Westway’ and the just plain dizzying instrumental piano piece ‘Intermission’, Blur threw themselves into the inevitable closing tunes. The temperature in the Civic reflected the energy and love both put into and received by ‘End of a Century’ and ‘For Tomorrow’. However, ‘The Universal’ topped it all. It is definitely not too bold a statement to say that everyone should experience a live rendition of this track, even if merely to enjoy the tune that made a British Gas advert interesting.
As nondescript a venue as it was, the Civic allowed an intimacy that wouldn't be felt by the the millions who journeyed worldwide to experience the Olympics and the ceremonies that were organised to epitomise British culture and music. Tears fell, beer was thrown, and generations came together to watch proof that it really really really could happen, all over again.