Blur Return to New York City With New Songs and Same High Energy
As they proved at their gig in London last month, Blur are back and haven't lost a beat. So when they finally hit the stage last night (May 1) at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn for their first New York City show in 15 years, fans knew it was going to be just as epic -- or perhaps even more.
Blur announced their Converse Rubber Tracks Live showcase earlier this week, and the fan reaction was, to put it simply, insane -- the free tickets sold out in seconds on Wednesday (April 29). When it was time to line up for the show, fans arrived at the venue as early as 1PM ET, despite the fact it wasn't set to kick-off until 5:45PM. And while every fan in line had a confirmed ticket, that didn't necessarily guarantee admission ... which left some in tears, making for one of the more emotional shows I've ever seen -- and the gig hadn't even started yet.
Brooklyn rockers Honduras opened the night. Dressed in their best pairs of Chuck Taylors, the band warmed up the crowd with a seven-song set that seemed to grow bigger and bigger as they went through each track. By the end of their set, guitarist and singer Pat Phillips was on the ground, putting everything he had into the performance's finale.
The energy in the room was electric as everyone anxiously waited for Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree to walk out. When they stepped onstage, along with four backup singers and a second drummer, the room erupted.
In support of the just-released The Magic Whip, Blur pretty much performed the whole tracklist, only skipping "Ice Cream Man." Despite repeat requests from the crowd, Albarn explained why they decided to pass on that one for the night.
"Sorry, we haven't worked out how to play that," he said. "We're not confident in it yet."
While they might not have been ready to play that song live, their performances of the rest of the tracks made up for it. Although the music was new, the band's vibrance and energy were still as grand as they were when they released their debut LP, Leisure, in 1991. It was also nice to see Albarn show off his silly side as he danced around onstage throughout the show -- such a difference from the more somber and calm side of the singer during his solo shows last year. And in great '90s fashion, the show couldn't be complete without Albarn opening bottle after bottle of water and dousing the crowd with it.
After the band performed The Magic Whip, they stepped offstage for a bit only to return for a three-song encore that included "Beetlebum," "Trouble in the Message Center" and the infamous "Song 2." The crowd went from calm admiration to one chaotic jumping party:
For many of the fans who showed up for the free concert, Blur were a major part of their childhoods. And for me personally, finally seeing them get back onstage after so long brought me back to my 9-year-old self dancing around her room with Parklife blasting out of my Walkman -- a moment I will never forget.
Check out Blur's setlist and a few photos from the night below:
Blur -- New York City's Music Hall of Williamsburg
Blur -- Setlist, May 1, 2015
"New World Towers"
"Thought I Was a Spaceman"
"My Terracotta Heart"
"There Are Too Many of Us"
"Trouble in the Message Center"