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
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
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
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.