I went to see Blur on Friday. I did it to make me feel better about that awful news posted below. It did make me feel better, even if just for a few hours. Because i now have a job writing for Platform, I also reviewed the gig. Well, it's a review of sorts. Platform have had to edit it slightly, because i do not understand the notion of word counts and because my big mouth also translates to the page. But copied in below is my full, unedited review.
"In a brazen and frankly unnecessary attempt to win over the crowd, tonight Damon Albarn jokes about this show being the first to go on sale, cannily implying that those present are the real Blur fans. But he’s not talking to me. I don’t deserve that. I waited until an entire twenty-four hours before the start of the show to arrange a reduced-price ticket. I’m such a tourist. I can’t even decide on my favourite Blur album.
But as if to spite my flagrancy, things don’t go quite to plan and I almost get bitten hard on my tight arse. By the time I arrive at Hyde Park, my friend with the spare ticket is already inside the arena and I spend the next hour and a half getting both her answer phone and increasingly, childishly anxious. There’s a mobile phone black spot playing havoc with my heart and threatening to crush the realisation of a long held teenage dream. As cultural imperialists Vampire Weekend take to the stage, I decide to panic-buy a ticket from a couple who’ve been lucky enough to win backstage passes. Hate them. Just as we complete the transaction, my phone begins to ring. Great timing. It must be a tout conspiracy. I accelerate from zero to one-too-many tickets faster than an LA ambulance with a dead popstar inside. But at least I’m guaranteed to get in now.
As I make my way to the bar, I embarrassingly realise the hole in my cut-offs thinks it’s a charity and has decided to donate all of my money to the grass; a grass that’s populated by such a high proportion of twats I start to think I may have bought a ticket for an Oasis concert instead. Fantastic. Showers of Tuborg bottles filled with piss fly through the crowd, hitting boring people in their fat faces. This makes me feel a little better. All it needs to do now is start raining.
But it doesn’t. The sky stays so blue its like it was drawn in to evoke the sense of hope of the New Labour 90s boom Blur are inexorably tied to. Because, as relevant as Blur have remained, tonight is all about the past. It’s a nostalgia trip which Blur embrace unashamedly, airing a selection of songs from each one of their seven albums. For the most part, time has been incredibly kind to their back catalogue (although “She’s So High” still sounds like the first song they ever wrote) and, in particular, Alex James. The more bourgeois he becomes, the better he looks. I have a man crush. If that’s what a champagne addiction does for you, then hook some Moet to my veins now. Sadly, the same can’t be said for poor Dave Rowntree, the torment of time emphasised by a devious camera man who decides to provide a big screen close up of his overflowing mid-rift and animated jowls at exactly the point Damon utters the fateful “all the seams are splitting ” line from “Tracey Jacks”. It can’t be a coincidence and it’s not the only time that this words ring eerily true tonight.
We all know we’re going to die of something this summer (thanks, The Media), but if it’s to be soundtracked by “This Is A Low”, then it’ll be a beautiful final communal sunset, even when the mass sing-a-long sounds like aural pig flu. It’s an anthem for Broken Britain, sung along to by all the people that keep breaking it. It’s like all the characters Damon has created in his lyrics are standing there in the crowd screaming back at him, like a musical “Lunar Park”. Thank God he didn’t create Patrick Bateman. Nevertheless, I could quite easily go the rest of my life without ever again hearing some fat HMV indie dad with sunburn and an over designed River Island T shirt bellow along to “Tender” like he’s never heard music before. It’s like drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa, but less funny and with more BO. It’s Ernold Same’s one gig of the year. But it must be a beautiful moment for the band. Damon in particular appears visibly moved by the reception they receive, although he’s manned up a little after going Gwyneth Paltrow at Glastonbury. It probably also makes him feel better to know that he’s not the only one here who can’t sing very well and he certainly looks only slightly less trampy than his fans.
But, as populist as Blur are, this isn’t an Oasis gig. The crowd might be mainly 18-to-over-30-and-off-their-fuckin-heads, but at least what they’re here for is much more intelligent than gigs this size generally are. They close with what’s probably the best final encore ever in “For Tomorrow” and “The Universal”. Those songs still hit hard, perhaps harder than ever before. It’s almost as if they were always written for this moment. As if they’d consciously written their own history from the start.
Strategically wading through a carpet of plastic bottles as we leave, the chorus to that final song is looping in my head and all I can think is “fuck, they’re the band The Beatles could’ve been”. Ask me what my favourite Blur album is now. I’d have to say The Best of Blur. That’s what it was tonight."
And sorry for the terrible title for the post. If only i was as clever as i thought i was.