Gig review: Blur, Glasgow

Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn in a set which showcased all the band's strengths. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn in a set which showcased all the band's strengths. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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BY BLUR’S Hyde Park headlining standards, this show was an intimate affair, ostensibly an opportunity to introduce The Magic Whip, their first new album in 12 years, but also to revel in one of pop’s finest back catalogues.

Blur - Barrowland, Glasgow

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They set out their store early, following one of their newest tracks, Go Out, with one of their oldest – their gauche debut hit There’s No Other Way – and the rest of the set proceeded along similar lines: a couple of new tracks, welcomed with warmth, then the ecstatic reaction to an old familiar favourite.

Blur’s status is such that they could play a set of less obvious album tracks and still leave their fans sated. This connoisseur’s selection showcased all their strengths, starting with a number of quality low-key cuts such as the wistful Badhead and He Thought Of Cars. Both are shining examples of frontman Damon Albarn’s capacity for yearning expression, but the comforting chug of Coffee and TV confirmed that guitarist Graham Coxon can do plaintive very well himself, with a slightly grungier edge.

There Are Too Many of Us was one of a couple of new songs which already sound comfortable in that canon of classics. Ong Ong is a ready-made singalong anthem, while Coxon’s soulful guitar sound on My Terracotta Heart was the perfect accompaniment to Albarn’s heartfelt lyrics about the band.

Arguably the crowd were in too celebratory a mood to give their full attention to the disarming torch song Thought I Was A Spaceman but had no trouble engaging with the offbeat Beetlebum, accompanied by guitar slinging antics from Coxon.

Although Blur remain an exhilarating live band, they have toned down the feral chaos with age. There were other signs of maturity. The core quartet were joined by four slick backing singers who came into their own on the indie gospel singalong Tender. Even the archetypal Britpop knees-up Parklife has aged well, thanks to its witty metropolitan commentary.

The highlights flowed as curfew edged closer and was cheerfully exceeded. The urban symphony For Tomorrow was the song which first showed that Blur meant business more than 20 years ago, the gleeful Girls And Boys is as clever as party anthems come and their cathartic soaring ballads To the End, The Universal and This Is a Low, which finds poetry and solace in the shipping forecast, became communal outpourings of righteous emotion.

Seen on 09.06.15