By Samara Siviter reporting from the concert
On Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th July, Britpop legends Blur, fronted by the incredible Damon Albarn, finally accomplished a long term aim of theirs – to headline Wembley Stadium and didn’t they do an incredible job of doing so?
From classics such as ‘Parklife’, from their eponymous 1994 album of the same title, and ‘There’s No Other Way’ to new gems such as St Charles’ Square and The Narcissist, the quartet certainly reminded us all of the importance of Blur’s music within modern pop culture as well as lifting our spirits and hearts in a time where we needed it the most.
Formed in 1989, Blur have gone from strength to strength through the decades, having sold over six million albums despite their intense rivalry with opposing Britpop legends Oasis in the 1990s, and have had 26 top 40 hits not to mention 13 top 10s where two of them managed to secure number one.
Back in November last year, as soon as I heard that they were due to reunite for two exclusive come back shows straight away I knew that I needed to immediately buy tickets. I’ve loved Blur since a young age, credit to my Mum for introducing them to me, and was desperate to finally see the legends for myself and well what can I say?
The seven months of waiting was certainly worth it. A joyous, euphoric and loving atmosphere right from the offset, as we were transported across their extensive catalogue of works, across over three decades, as Damon continually expressed his love, appreciation and gratitude for him, Alex, Dave and Graham to finally have a chance to play such an esteemed venue as this.
Firstly they opened, with St Charles’ Square, from their forthcoming album ‘The Ballad of Darren’ – a place which Albarn quotes ‘The Ghosts of Monsters can be found’ as it’s a nod to Blur’s past woven within Leisure. Secondly, they shortly faded into the classic ‘There’s No Other Way’ – an anthem which documents the implications of the difficulties we often face in life on a regular basis knowing there’s no other way around other than facing it as it comes.
Furthermore, we then saw Popscene and Tracy Jacks – two additional classics, seeing Damon come into the audience to greet the fans. Then we dipped into the 1996’s Great Escape Era with Stereotypes, as Damon sings about the superficial nature of labels, something which seems to be emblazoned within our world more than ever. Soon after, Graham Coxon takes the helm of the stage for Coffee and TV, as the whole stadium revisited 1998’s Leisure, feeling the value of reaching out to help others in time of need as demonstrated within the video with the milk carton.
Just before slipping back into their staple 1994 album, we took a brief stint at ‘the rat race’ with 1996’s Country House, as we were retold the story of a boring man who lives out his life in the countryside. Then we returned back into the Parklife Era with This is A Low and End Of A Century, as well as the much loved Parklife, where Phil Daniels came out on stage once more to remind us of how feeding the pigeons gives him an enormous sense of wellbeing as the crowd reciprocated the iconic Parklife chant.
Just before the Encore though, we headbanged to the beloved ‘Song 2’ as the stadium bounced up and down to the feel good rock style anthem, as Albarn led a ripple woohoo chants, whilst we let go of all our stresses and worries from modern life.
Finally, after the band took a few moments away from the stage, the much loved quarter returned for the encore but before breaking out in the anthemic quintet they’d selected we were delighted with the play of ‘Lot 105’ as we mirrored Albarn’s Wembley chants, whilst he once again expresses his gratitude to our crowd for ‘being brilliant’. The anthemic classic ‘Girls and Boys’, accompanied by a gel of pink and blue lights on the stage, as the whole stadium jumped up and down, reminiscing the iconic song which opens their 1994 album Parklife, as Albarn spouted a recreated FILA jacket from the one he wore on the video, coming out into the crowd once more.
Following on, we saw For Tomorrow, as Damon revisited Modern Life is Rubbish, an all the more poignant saying in our current society, whilst singing about the importance of holding on for another day. Afterwards, we saw Tender as Albarn brought out the London Gospel Choir as we sang our hearts out reminding ourselves there’s always hope in each and every moment no matter how dark it is and love will always get us through.
Penultimately, we heard a new lead release from their forthcoming album as Albarn sang The Narcissist – revisiting his early years and his struggles with the issue. And lastly, the song which is most synonymous with British Gas thanks to the company’s recent use of the song on their older adverts, The Universal closed out the perfect two hour and ten minute set, accompanied by glittering mirroballs as the whole stadium sang in harmony to the song.
Overall, despite the fact I’ve only been to five big concerts, I’d have to say that it was certainly the best one I’ve been too, as it reminded me of the unifying power of music and how it can uplift us all even in the most difficult of times. Albarn is an incredibly talented vocalist, not just in the capacity of Blur but his solo work, just as Graham, Alex and Dave are wondrous. If anyone reading this is looking to see the band in the future, I would highly recommend the concert and say you’re certainly in for a treat but a nostalgia back trip through the ages.
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