Having never had the chance to see my first ‘favourite’ band (not ashamed to say, Damon’s face decorated my pre-teen walls) over the last twenty years, expectations were high as to what Blur could deliver to the massive crowd on Saturday night…
As the sound of electro-infused lullabies ripples through the damp, Hyde Park dusk air and the sight of giant, neon ice creams are projected between (very realistic) fake oak trees, Blur take to the stage. Returning three years after their rumoured ‘last’ performance at the park in 2012, it came as a welcome surprise to discover that Damon, Graham, Alex and Dave were back to celebrate the release of their latest album, The Magic Whip.
“Let’s have it!”exclaims Damon Albarn as he bounds onto the stage, donning a khaki bomber jacket, with bundles of buoyant energy, before blasting out new track, ‘Go Out’. Despite having been suffering from a sore throat lately, it would seem that the incredible passion and relentless vigour of Albarn remains perfectly in tact.
As classics such as ‘There’s No Other Way’ and ‘Coffee And TV’ are interspersed with new numbers – like ‘Lonesome Street’ – my first favourite band prove they’ve still got it; a rapturous aura sweeps over the 65,000 strong crowd and I’m filled with all the excitement of an eleven year old seeing Blur on TOTP for the first time. Although handing out free ice cream to the front row is perhaps not the most practical of ideas, it’s the thought that counts, and the generosity is welcomed.
As the sun begins to set, each track – new or old – charges through the midsummer air with spirited tenacity. Whether he’s initiating emotion-strewn singalongs to ‘Tender’ or racing Phil Daniels across the stage during ‘Parklife’, Albarn exudes all the excitement and laddish charm of a ‘90s teen. Alternating between energy-fuelled numbers such as ‘Girls And Boys’ and ‘Song 2’, and the rich atmosphere of the likes of ‘To The End’ and ‘This Is A Low’, a joyous magnetism oozes from the stage and I’m hit with the realisation that my expectations have been exceeded.
As a euphoric state of ecstasy accompanies the sparkling grandeur of ‘The Universal’, my only disappointment of the night is that I didn’t get to reinvent my own choreographed dance to ‘Country House’ from back in the day…