Review: Jack Foley
BLUR rounded off a brilliant year with a rousing concert in Brighton
on Thursday, December 11, which marked the penultimate date in
a very long tour.
Having first caught up with them at the Astoria in May this year,
following the release of their brilliant album, Think
Tank, it was refreshing to note that the set they produced
in Brighton was a slightly different, if not more quirky, one
than the London crowd-pleaser.
And while Damon Albarns voice showed signs of wear and
tear during some of the more difficult vocal moments, and a microphone
stand kept getting in the way of the frontmans stage positioning,
this was another quality turn, which served as a timely Christmas
present to their dedicated fans.
In terms of set-list, too, this was one which rewarded the more
committed fanatics, rather than those who merely buy the singles.
Hence, the highlights included a rare live outing for the brilliant
Sing (played at the start of the encore), and equally rare
outings for Bad Head, To The End, and Shes So
High (which Damon confessed was the single that did
it for him with Justine Frischmann, of Elastica fame).
As Blur fans know, only too well, that long-term relationship
ended painfully, so it was little surprise to find Tender cropping
up shortly afterwards on the set-list, but played with relish
and on the biggest scale. The memories may still hurt, but it
didnt prevent the track becoming one of the feelgood moments
of the evening.
Strong, too, were the new tracks, taken from Think Tank,
which exemplify how the band have progressed from happy-go-lucky
indie rockers, to thoughtful, well-rounded musicians.
The gig kicked off with Ambulance, the deeply moody opening
track from Think Tank, in which Albarn claims he has nothing
to be afraid of; before taking in the album tracks, Brothers
and Sisters, Gene By Gene and Jets.
Needless to say, it was during such moments that ex-Verve guitarist,
Simon Tong, looked most comfortable, free from the restraints
imposed by Graham Coxons intricate riffs, but one still
has to tip their hat to the way in which he has applied himself
to recreating them live, seldom appearing afraid to dip into a
comprehensive back catalogue, and emerging with considerable credit.
Albarn, too, appeared up for it, despite a nightmare train journey
(taken on a whim), and the less than supportive sound systems
and stage equipment. Always a lively performer, he entered the
crowd on a couple of occasions, while also commanding them to
get into the spirit of the evening, at various highpoints (such
as the obligatory likes of Girls and Boys and Song 2).
Yet this was much more about the quieter stuff, and was, quite
possibly, the most restrained I have seen Blur. And while the
demands of such an expansive tour have obviously taken their toll,
and the Brighton venue isnt the best in terms of atmosphere
and acoustics, they made it one for the connoisseur to really
Of the innumerable highlights, a rousing version of We've
Got A File On You, as well as the slow-building Trimm Trabb,
and the quietly pleasing Good Song, Beetlebum and For
Tomorrow served to really give the crowd what they were seeking
- a little bit of everything.
The main bulk of the concert may have ended with This Is A
Low (from Parklife), but the night, as a whole, provided a
number of highs. Blur ensured that 2003 will be remembered as