by / August 2nd, 2013 /

Blur – Dublin

Sometimes in life it’s hard to say no. Blur are not the first band to split under acrimonious circumstances and then find a way to patch it up on stage in front of thousands of paying customers. When they first reunited in 2009 it did feel like a natural progression, a full stop to a career that had taken a number of twists and turns. Four years later and they’re back, although it’s getting harder to see the point. A handful of new tracks aside, nothing has really changed. The setting of the Irish Museum of Modern Art is perhaps more appropriate than Oxegen for a band who always fought an internal battle over commerciality versus creativity but it’s fair to say their motives for being here have probably become more defined.

Such opinions are exasperated by their appearance. Tossing ‘Girls & Boys’ to the crowd like a rubber bone to a pack of dogs, they hardly looked delighted to be back on Irish soil. Plodding through ‘Popscene’ and ‘There’s No Other Way’, it looks as though we could be in for a long night. Two things save them though – some of their songs and their singer. While Graham Coxon and Alex James go through the motions, Damon Albarn gives it his all. Like a talented midfielder propping up an average football team, he keeps trying to drive things forward – on more than one occasion turning to urge Dave Rowntree on – and covers every available inch of space.

Early crowd pleasers dealt with, ‘Beetlebum’ ushers in a twenty minute segment that perhaps gets closer to the heart of Blur than anything else. ‘Out Of Time’ is just gorgeous, and the double 13 whammy of ‘Trimm Trabb’ and ‘Caramel’ sees them take it to another level. For once Coxon is an animated prescence, tinkering with his effects and combining with the brass section and backing vocalists to create a sound that fills the long, narrow space. It’s not quite what some of the audience have come for, however, with one particular group of lads near State responding by talking then singing ‘There’s No Other Way’ and – hilariously – ‘Wonderwall’. Given that the sound level isn’t the loudest (Albarn’s memories of their first Dublin visit in 1988 are completely lost) it rather spoils the moment.

The sense of relief when they return to the script, even with the comparatively light weight ‘Coffee & TV’, is palpable. And nothing, absolutely nothing, can rob the majestic ‘Tender’ of its splendour tonight. Sat next to the cheeky chappy combo of ‘Country House’ and ‘Parklife’ (complete with Phil Daniels for extra geezerness), it, ‘To The End’, ‘This Is A Low’ and ‘The Universal’ prove that Blur were always at their best when reaching for the musical stars, while encore ‘Under The Westway’ shows that they still have the mercurial touch when they choose to use it.

Not that they will. Once this summer is done, James will return to his cheese, Coxon to his tinkering and Rowntree to his legal duties, anti-death penalty work, campaigning for musicians’ rights and political activities (it’s always the quiet ones you have to keep an eye on). Watching Albarn race along the front row, slapping hands and drenched in sweat, you realise that there is one point to all this. He needs this. World music, soul icons, opera and cartoon bands are all very well, but Damon Albarn also has to be a rock star. With Blur having less and less distance left to run, you wonder if he’ll ever get the chance again.

Photo: Ste Murray. See more shots here.

  • simon tear

    Oh yes by the way who are you? What have you done for music!

  • simon tear

    Oh yes by the way who are you? What have you done for music!

  • Lilly M

    What a load of rubbish – i was at the show and all the band put there heart and soul into it , especially Dave Rowntree. Have seen them five times in past two years and it was a great gig- one of their best. You are clearly writing this to be controversial or dont’ have a clue about music. For any fans reading this – A colleague of mine went to the after show party and met the band who all told her how much they were enjoying touring and being together again and couldn’t wait for more shows to come.

  • Daz

    You must have been at a different gig to me. It was an amazing gig and well worth the trip over from London for.

  • Stu Banks

    I came from England to see this gig and also was lucky enough to go to the after show even at Lillies Bordello in Grafton street. The gig was amazing, full of energy and left me wanting more at the end. This review is utter dribble from a wannabe journo who is probably an Oasis fan!!!!! I have to say though, the highlight of my whole evening was chatting to Phil Daniels at the aftershow event…what a thourally nice chap he was!!!!!!!

  • Chris Hughes

    Absolute rubbish mate. Don’t give up your day job…

  • Vini

    Nice review mate, were you actually there? This school of writing may get you job if you close your eyes and hope really hard.

  • MELLY 123

    Yes i was they and they were class, also they played to the end which was our wedding song! THEY ARE THE BEST!

  • Alan Corr

    Noice review, good points, well made Phil

  • Phelo

    Phil’s review…or the opinion of someone whose highlight was chatting with (name checking) Phil Daniels at the after show event which they attended (and told us twice)?? Which is a more reliable gauge I wonder?

  • Phelo

    Phil’s review…or the opinion of someone whose highlight was chatting with (name checking) Phil Daniels at the after show event which they attended (and told us twice)?? Which is a more reliable gauge I wonder?

  • milly 30

    Has this review been written for a joke? I have been a fan for 20 years and seeing this is the 1st gig I could get too its was bloody fantastic! (apart from some over sized tiney boppers nudging infront of us and talking all the way through) blur were brill, like it has been said before, prob an oasis fan. sour grapes

  • Chris Hughes

    A more reliable guage is someone who was there, were you? If so then please feel free to form your own opinion. My opinion is they were brilliant, one of the best live bands there is, like I say in my opinion. As for name dropping, I have met D and the band quite a few times and been to numerous after shows and been on numerous guest lists, suck on it….

  • Chris Hughes

    A more reliable guage is someone who was there, were you? If so then please feel free to form your own opinion. My opinion is they were brilliant, one of the best live bands there is, like I say in my opinion. As for name dropping, I have met D and the band quite a few times and been to numerous after shows and been on numerous guest lists, suck on it….

  • Chris Hughes

    A more reliable guage is someone who was there, were you? If so then please feel free to form your own opinion. My opinion is they were brilliant, one of the best live bands there is, like I say in my opinion. As for name dropping, I have met D and the band quite a few times and been to numerous after shows and been on numerous guest lists, suck on it….

  • Chris Hughes

    A more reliable guage is someone who was there, were you? If so then please feel free to form your own opinion. My opinion is they were brilliant, one of the best live bands there is, like I say in my opinion. As for name dropping, I have met D and the band quite a few times and been to numerous after shows and been on numerous guest lists, suck on it….

  • Chris Hughes

    A more reliable guage is someone who was there, were you? If so then please feel free to form your own opinion. My opinion is they were brilliant, one of the best live bands there is, like I say in my opinion. As for name dropping, I have met D and the band quite a few times and been to numerous after shows and been on numerous guest lists, suck on it….

  • Chris Hughes

    A more reliable guage is someone who was there, were you? If so then please feel free to form your own opinion. My opinion is they were brilliant, one of the best live bands there is, like I say in my opinion. As for name dropping, I have met D and the band quite a few times and been to numerous after shows and been on numerous guest lists, suck on it….

  • Stu Banks

    I think your outnumbered mate. There’s more on here that disagree with you and then theres the tens of thousands who turned for each gig on a world tour. I wonder if the author of this drivel is your mate, dad, or lover #idiot