Friday, 17 July 2009

Blur live at Hyde Park review for Gobshout

Well, it was definitely worth the wait. After the hiatus, the rumours and perhaps pressure, Blur are back and are arguably better than ever. From opening with 'She's so High' all the way through to closing with 'The Universal', Blur's homecoming gig could have been labelled a greatest hits concert – and it was excellent throughout.

The massive Hyde Park crowd was excited enough after the first song but it completely erupted when 'Girls and Boys' followed immediately afterwards. The fact it was played with more energy than ever just made it even better.

The boozy laddyness of earlier singles like 'There's no other way' and 'Jubilee' soon made way for slower tracks like 'Beetlebum' and 'Out of Time' – the only song to feature from the Graham Coxon-less Think Tank album.

Coxon took up his position as lead vocalist during fan favourite 'Coffee & TV' which sadly didn't feature any milk carton's whatsoever! However, Coxon's ability as arguably the most technically proficient guitarist of his generation more than made up for it. As front man however, Damon Albarn was the star of the show. He ran about the stage like a mad man during high tempo songs while still being sincere for tracks like 'Tender'.

This was one of the highlights of the night and it went on for a good ten minutes – at one point no instruments were being played and it was just thousands of people singing the words. Fantastic.

The pace was picked up immediately with the oom pah pah of 'Country House' with Damon once again full of energy – maybe TOO much energy. He dropped and broke a microphone before Oily Water and used a megaphone to sing it instead.

The undoubted highlight of the night was an excellent rendition of the classic 'Parklife' complete with with rowdy vocals from Phil Daniels. As with Girls and Boys the track had more energy than it ever had before and was better for it.

The band closed the pre-encore part of the show with calm tracks 'End of a Century', 'To the End', and 'This is a Low'. The middle one of these was complimented perfectly by the backing band which excellently supported Blur throughout the show.

But of course the show wasn't to end there; classic tracks 'Popscene', 'Advert' and 'Song 2' all made an appearance. When Dave Rowntree bashed out an extended version of the 'Song 2' intro the crowd knew what was coming. I have never, ever seen an audience erupt so massively about a single song and Blur played it brilliantly.

After a second encore the band closed with 'The Universal'. The boys seemed genuinely touched to be playing again and we're left to wonder what will happen next. Could there be a new album in the pipeline perhaps? The band certainly seemed to enjoy playing to such a big crowd and even after all these years they have electric on stage chemistry. If they wanted, Blur could probably produce one of their best albums yet. Will it happen? We'll have to wait and see but they showed that they still have the passion for it while playing the massive Hyde Park show.

(Orginally published on Gobshout on July 6th 2009)

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