Blur / Hyde Park
Stuart Gadd went down to the gig of the year, or so it was hyped as well being. Was it tears at Tender or tantrums at The Universal? Kane Howie also happened to be there with his fancy picture phone...
Helping to celebrate a well publicised event that's just finished in London, this heftily sponsored shebang in Hyde Park could be a different closing ceremony. Blur's is the reunion that isn't quite that, as they've never quite split up but now this is rumoured to be their last gig. However, for a 50,000 plus crowd fuelled by Olympic euphoria there's little room for regret and plenty for grabbing the moment.
The atmosphere was a little of a mod picnic but with still a variety of different faces, with a varied supporting cast of acts including youngsters Bombay Bicycle Club who bring offbeat African rhythms to bright sunshine Their hazy charms are best when pinned with da funk, as on new offering 'Beg' and closer 'Shuffle'
After being introduced onto the stage New Order's Bernard is then making light of the absence of bass fulcrum Peter Hook, quipping "I've just been told we're New Order, we'll do our best for you today". Such touching modestly isn't all false either as they've being winging for the thirty plus years since Joy Division's premature demise. Nevertheless, as the first notes emanate sylph like from Gillian's Fantom G7 for 'Elegia' they're true pioneers. The motorik 'Ceremony: is dashed off with magisterial precision, Gillian is wearing lame and 'Bizarre Love Triangle' is then euphoric. For 'Blue Monday' cutting edge visuals showcase their mix of curmudgeon and Balearic sky thinking as a hand sweeps barley against an azure blue sky. For 'Love Will Tear us Apart', its lumps in throats time as images of Ian Curtis and the text Joy Division Forever flash onto the backdrop.
The Specials are a weird time capsule. Terry Hall is fuller of figure but still looks like himself and the punky ska mix still sounds strangely innovative thirty years on. 'Nite Klub' brings a tale of blank faced Coventry demi monde denizens in places where "the beer tastes like piss". Appropriate considering the bars on site smelt like tanneries.
Then for Blur's climax its an unadulterated orgy of jubilation. With the big screens beaming in further pictures of team GB gold all afternoon, if Blur had been candidates for a national unity government they'd have won by a landslide, their appropriately serpentine back catalogue uniting all factions.
After 'Girls and Boys: moulders in an irritating mix as muddy as Dogger Bank, 'Tracy Jacks', from Parklife, kicks over the sonic traces, its sound of the disenchanted suburbs unleashing a wild audience call and response. Performing under a mock up of the Westway, this quintessential London group all have glints in their eyes and clearly are relishing their chemistry and banter. With hypnotic tabla bringing world music vibes, 'Out of Time' brings an off kilter but still lovely world, balm for the ears of many, including Britpop survivors with fond but probably foggy memories. 'Trimm Trabb' is a more circumspect space for musing on Englishness but still sees the front row clinging to Damon Albarn, 'Song 2' has him jumping up and down with his megaphone, while a sparkling 'Parklife' brings the pantomime, with Phil Daniels on stage as well as a dame in the shape of Harry Enfield, dressed as a tea lady.
With Albarn not forgetting Mo Farah by inciting an entire crowd to perform the Mobot, in the final section of a two hour show things are getting emotional, understandably if those rumours are true. After the ode to bring young and overdoing it in London that is 'For Tomorrow', giddy romance is followed by 'The Universal's' grand sweep to close. An appropriate choice and as Albarn is visibly moved by the crowd's response, you must surmise a large part of him.must still be addicted to being in Blur