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Live Review: Blur at Wolverhampton Civic Hall

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Blur are best known as the definitive Britpop band of the 90s, but it would be unfair to think of them as just that. 2012 sees them embark on a reunion tour, and I was excited to see what they’d choose to play from their extensive and impressive back catalogue.

Lead singer Damon Albarn performs with the energy of a man half his age, constantly jumping around, throwing himself on the floor and climbing into the audience. He obviously relishes every second on stage, encouraging the crowd to sing along and get into it as much as possible. It’s hard to argue with those who say he was born to be a frontman.

His interactions with guitarist and best friend Graham Coxon are lovely to watch, especially since it was their disagreements that caused the band to go on indefinite hiatus in 2003. Coxon is rightly held up as one of the best guitarists of his generation and his solos are fascinating to watch and listen to, making Beetlebum and Country House sound even better.

Bassist Alex James stalks around the stage, his cool stage presence not distracting from his strong bass lines, and drummer Dave Rowntree’s quiet brilliance at the back of the stage shouldn’t be overlooked with his drumming driving the songs forward.

It’s a sign of a great band that the album tracks and rarities like Trimm Trabb from 1999 album 13 get the same crowd reception as popular singles like the inimitable Parklife. New tracks Under The Westway and The Puritan are also well received, already fitting comfortably alongside the classics. The band move easily from the trio of short sharp rock songs (Popscene, Advert and Song 2) to the mournful melancholy of the longer songs (Tender, This Is A Low and Sing) as Albarn sits at his piano in the corner.

As the band go off before the encore, the melancholy refrain of ‘oh my baby, oh why, oh my’ from Tender starts up from the crowd, with everyone joining in. Albarn stands with his arms in the air looking around the room during a triumphant version of The Universal as the finale, and it’s hard to believe there’s anywhere better to be in the world.

The band are currently celebrating their 21st anniversary, and it’s unclear whether they are planning to record any further albums. After tonight’s incredible performance, it would be easy to say Blur would be silly not to carry on. Should their upcoming Hyde Park gig on August 12th be their last (as Albarn suggests), they would be bowing out rightfully remembered as one of the best British bands ever.




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