Support: Bat For Lashes / Strypes
It is 16 years since I last saw Blur live. In fact that was the one and only time I saw them and it was in the not so glamorous surroundings of Hull Ice Arena. Hardly a high point in their career I would imagine but a stellar gig nonetheless. That particular concert was during the period which saw them take the critical baton from Oasis. That year the Manchester band released Be Here Now which was an album that took a serious panning, with Noel Gallagher himself soon dismissing it. Blur, in contrast, released their self-titled long player, an album which stands up today as one of their best.
This was my first time at the IMMA. It made a change to be at a different venue as in recent years I have got a little fed up of seeing the inside of many a soulless arena and stadium. For todays gig there were two support bands. We missed the Strypes but we did catch most of the Bat For Lashes (Claudia Winkleman in a fancy dress?) set and although I thought she sounded very good I think she is probably one for smaller venues.
Blur came on stage just before 9pm and although the sound was a little off at the beginning it greatly improved as the set wore on. Starting with Girls and Boys, Popscene, There’s No Other Way and Beetlebum was excellent and the crowd were definitely up for a good time from the start. Out Of Time, Trimm Trab and Caramel mellowed the mood before the band played Chemical World B Side, Young & Lovely. That was a song I had never heard before and apparently the first time the band had played it in a long while.
From then on it was hit after hit with a mightily impressive Damon Albarn in superb form. Coffee & TV, Tender, To The End, Country House were all sung with gusto before they were joined on stage by Phil Daniels for Park Life. I have always loved Mr Daniels but tonight his mic didn’t seem too great and his vocal wasn’t loud enough. Still good fun though.
End Of A Century and This Is A Low finished off the main set before the band came back on for a four song encore starting off with last year’s Under The Westway. It is encouraging that it is such a good song and fits well in to the setlist. For Tomorrow and The Universal are next up before Song 2 had the whole crowd jumping as one. A perfect way to end any concert.
This was a hugely enjoyable gig with a few caveats:
1) The view wasn’t the best but I should have got there earlier so that’s my own fault
2) The sound at times was up and down but again that may just be to do with where we were stood
3) I was slightly distracted at the beginning of Blur’s set by people smoking around me… I used to be a smoker and I did on occasion smoke at concerts but after 5 years off them I can now see some of the stupid habits smokers have. Do they really think that blowing smoke up in the air actually means it doesn’t blow in other people’s faces? I may well be turning into a grumpy old man (the wife says I did that years ago) but the sooner smoking is banned from concerts the better. Yep I know it will be very hard to do but I inhaled a lot of smoke of one kind or another and it really can be uncomfortable
4) As Damon Albarn proved denim jackets rock. I will be purchasing one soon despite other people’s thoughts to the contrary
5) Getting out of the venue wasn’t very easy and took longer than it should have. That is something that can easily be remedied though and despite that I was impressed with the venue
6) I desperately need a new phone with a decent camera. I'm getting sick of crappy pictures
Liam Gallagher may hate Blur but let’s face it Liam hates most people. He is still stuck in 1994. While Liam fathers more kids, gets annoyed at Robbie Williams’ ability to sell out Wembley Stadium, continues to not talk to his brother and generally goes around with a chip on his shoulder, Blur have shown what a creative force they are. Seeing Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn on stage together again is a good thing. They seem to be enjoying playing for the hell of it. Long may they continue and if their solo output and Under The Westway are anything to go by then any potential new Blur album could be a cracker.
Ticket: August 1st 2013
Ticket Price: €62.50