DAMON ALBARN

0 Posted by - January 15, 2015 - BLOG, ELECTRONIC, TRACKS

Damon Albarn performed at the Sydney Opera House in December. What a show it was…

Damon and his band put everything into a set that traversed his new solo record and the best of his material with Blur, Gorillaz and the often forgotten The Good, The Bad & The Queen… with a few surprises along the way. It was every bit the rock show, with Albarn in great spirits, showering the front row in water and making sure we were all on our feet. He had to work for it, but he definitely got the rousing reception he was hoping for. And it only got better, and the crowd louder, as the show went on.

Accompanying Albarn were an impressive four piece band he called The Heavy Seas, a local string quartet, a six piece choir from Tasmania (“The Southern Gospel Choir”) and a trumpeter from Reykjavik. These were big arrangements, though that’s not to say the show wasn’t without its quieter moments. For every “Kids With Guns” – a Gorillaz favourite and the highlight of the night with Damon picking up the guitar for the first time, and having a right old time with it – there was a track like Blur’s “Out of Time”, which stripped it right back to a solo Albarn on the piano.
And though you’d expect that jumping between vibes so regularly may have worked against the set being spectacular – and indeed there’s something to be said for keeping the slower songs together – sometimes one slower number would transition directly into a heavier number and it would work brilliantly. Take “Photographs (You Are Taking Now)”, a highlight off his solo record. A stand out, beautiful piece and another highlight of the night. This led straight into “Kingdom of Doom” off the one off The Good, The Bad and The Queen Record. And this leads me to an ultimate consensus of the show and his music: whether it’s from the 90s or now, whether it’s slow or heavier, there’s a certain quality and consistency to his music that makes it all fit together so nicely. And his latest material definitely sits well amongst the rest – even if we don’t know it as well, it feels like we should. What a prolific songwriter he’s been since emerging onto the scene…
A solid set from start to finish, sure, but to say they saved the best for last is perhaps an understatement. After rapturous applause from the crowd, having been left on a great note by a one-two Blur punch with “Out of Time” and “All Your Life”, the five track encore kicked off Blur’s “End of a Century” and his own “Mr Tembo”. He then invited Australia’s own Remi onto the stage for a stunningly good rendition of “Clint Eastwood”, with the Victorian rapper adding what seemed to be his own lyrics to the mix, followed by “Feel Good Inc.” which saw the one and only De La Soul join for their iconic verses – and DJ Maseo’s laugh, naturally. The night ended with “Heavy Seas Of Love” off the latest record.
Damon and his many players gave it their all in the 1 hour 40 minute show, and as I write this they’re doing it all over again. He reflected on the last time he’d played two shows in a row, which was back in 1990 at the Whiskey a Go Go – though I would hesitate to argue that his SXSW schedule this year may have been pretty close. In any case, it was a pleasure to see Albarn give such a great show. Ultimately this was a night where one of England’s most loved songwriters gave Sydney’s most iconic venue one hell of a night. And it’s not one we’ll soon forget.

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