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Blur provide plenty to think about


Review: Roland Stanbridge-Miles

Astoria, May 9, 2003

I'VE been disappointed by Blur's live shows in the past. First, V97 (my own fault for arriving late and therefore ending up about a mile from the stage), then Wembley Arena on the singles tour, a venue with lots of kids and no atmosphere.

Tonight is a decent venue for their eagerly anticipated return, and I manage to turn up on time, but I'm still a bit apprehensive because although their new album, Think Tank, has got pretty good reviews, I
haven't heard it.

So I'm thinking, basically, it's going to be a set of slow songs which I don't know.

I was wrong. Of course a lot of the new album is played but there's still plenty of room for some old classics - meaty versions of Beetlebum and Boys and Girls are thrown out surprisingly early on.

And I enjoy the new songs more than I would have expected to, though I'm still waiting for single, Out of Time, to grow on me.

Crazy Beat stands out, being the Song 2/B.L.U.R.E.M.I for this album, and sets the floor shaking, literally.

The atmosphere is fantastic - the combination of a wildly popular band who have been away for quite a long time playing in what, for them, is an intimate setting.

Damon seems up for it - sweating for England. Inevitably, the question on everyone's lips is what will they be like without Graham?

It is a bit strange seeing ex-Verve man, Simon Tong, up there in his place, but they seem to manage alright.

But then what are you gonna do? Stand at the back and moan how much better they were with him, or get down the front and enjoy jumping around to some great pop songs? I chose the latter.

From the earlier material, they don't always pick the obvious tracks (there's no room for Parklife or There's No Other Way), going instead for lesser known gems such as Bad Day, Coping and Top Man, to the delight of an ecstatic crowd.

Having said that, live favourites Song 2 and Popscene make welcome appearances and they round off a brilliant night with This is a Low.

Easily worth waking up at 9am on a Saturday morning and pressing redial for a finger-tiringly ridiculous number of times despite a killer hangover.

Anyone who missed out on getting tickets this time around (including several of my friends, who now hate me) would be well advised to make the effort to catch them at Reading or Leeds this summer.

 

 

 

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