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Festival review: British Summer Time - Blur


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It’s good to try. And boy, British Summer Time really do “try” to make a good festival happen!

Blur Hyde ParkAfter a second year attending this Hyde Park shindig it is obvious that try as they might, it will never be a good festival.

A corporate approximation of a village fete, with its segregation for ‘special’ people, atrocious sound quality and lack of vibe it is a testament to the gentrified, culturally-dead sinkhole that the money men are transforming our capital in to.

Still, this Saturday afternoon the lovely fella (and ladies) over at Barclaycard giving us the chance to see a British institution, Blur.

Throughout the day, in weather often as damp as the main stage sound, acts like The Horrors battle to grab attention of a crowd who can’t always hear them properly.

Brilliant afro-pop group Jupiter & Okwess International are immense fun through a downpour, all frantic energy and jittery rhythms, while Metronomy, as good as they are live (which is pretty damn good) fail to connect in any massively exciting way.

Main attraction Blur however don’t suffer this fate. “Let’s have it”, shouts an animated Damon before opener, new track “Go Out”.

And they do “have it” – despite everything going against them – the rain, the early curfew, the crappy sound – this is a band whose greatness means they can prevail regardless.

Damon is as commanding a performer as ever, bounding round the stage and handing our ice-creams to the front-row from the ice-cream van the band have on stage. Graham Coxon unleashes waves of guitar noise and effortless melody and Alex James regresses from the country-bound, cheese-maker back into the louch bassist, cig hanging from his mouth. As a unit, Blur have always been unstoppable.

The set-list displays the dichotomy of Blur’s career, with the indie-Britpop big-hitters producing frenzied sing-alongs, while newer material and more downbeat moments such as ‘Trimm Trabb’ and ‘Thought I Was Superman’ seeing swathes of the audience drift off. Blur have always been a band whose musical endeavours equal more than their populist hits, and have fought to keep experimenting, sometimes to no avail.  This gig is no different.

But the big-hitters are such for a reason, a rocked-up live version of ‘There’s No Other Way’, a wonderful ‘End Of The Century’, a frantic ‘Song 2’ and a rawkus ‘Parklife’ (complete with Phil Daniels cameo) show why they are one of our most enduring and interesting pop acts.

‘Tender’ is just beautiful, a truly emotional song when performed live and by the end of closer ‘The Universal’ (yes, the one of the advert) it is obvious that Blur are still as special as they come.

Despite all the hurdles, the band still manage to bring something of a great show to Hyde Park – well the bits we could hear, anyway.

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