Monday, July 06, 2009

Blur @ Hyde Park

I think it was sometime during Foals' set that it dawned on me. I was just about to see Blur. I mean Blur, the band that started my whole obsession with music, the band that create Parklife, the soundtrack to my life aged 10, the band that I've wanted to see live since then. They were going to take to the stage in matter of minutes. I was excited to say the least.
This was the first of two nights at a full capacity Hyde Park and after hours of sitting/standing in the scorching sun, watching uninspiring bands, it was a relief for the 55,000 slightly drunken, eager fans when the sounds of Lot 105 rang across the park.
The band strolled on from stage right, looking so casual you'd swear they do this every night, and went straight into their first single She's So High. The crowd erupted. Every lyric that Damon Albarn sang was resonated right back at him. The four-piece seemed overwhelmed by the reaction and as they began the Parklife one-two of Girls & Boys and Tracy Jacks, the crowd and the band bounced and flailed to every beat.

They ran through song after song, hit after hit, anthem after anthem at top speed, only breaking now and again for gasping intros and slightly awkward banter but each song made me realise how good Blur were/are. Alex James just grooved on his bass like no one else while mounted his monitor, Dave Rowntree's kept an insistent rhythm while adding playful fills, Damon is a mix between Suggs, Ray Davis and Mick Jagger, full of the vigour and energy of a twenty-year-old, especially when armed with a megaphone. But its Graham Coxon, the coolest man alive, that steals the show for me. His chunky, squealing guitar sound soared through the evening air on Beetlebum and This Is A Low. At one point he flung himself through the end and landed on his knees while planning some serious mean guitar. It was one of the most rocknroll things I've ever seen. And although he's always been my favourite member of Blur, after that performance he may just be my favourite musician ever.

The big stage was perfect for Blur. It may not have been obvious when they were released but near every song they played tonight is an anthem. Song 2. Anthem. There's No Other Way. Anthem. Popscene. Anthem. Even the novelty that is Country House sounds like an anthem when 55,000 people are hollering it out. That's what this gig was great for. Arms in the air, head point to the sky and just belting out the words to songs that haven't meant that for years.
It's the slow numbers that work better for this. While Jubilee, Trimm Trabb, Parklife(feat. Phil Daniels) were great, it was Out Of Time; End Of A Century; Tender, who's refrain continues to be sang long after the song had finished, and the utterly incredible closer The Universal that blew the crowd away, everyone with their arms around everyone else. An Everest-sized high.

It wasn't until we were trudging back to the train station that I realised they didn't play Charmless Man, one of my favourite Blur tracks, but that goes to show that they still had albums worth of material that is comparable to it and for two hours in Central London, I was 12 again, Blur had never been away and I didn't have a care in the world. Bliss.

Blur - The Universal (live)
Blur - Song 2 (live)
Blur - This Is A Low (live)

Photos taken from and Jellybeanz

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