Almost two years on from their last new material, the slight ‘Fool’s Day’ (which also included a ‘Westway’ reference), Damon and co finally unveiled another new Blur track, ‘Under The Westway’, at their War Child charity show last night (February 19).
Albarn’s acting school/musicals influence shows itself on ‘Under The Westway’. Unbothered by any pan-global musical influences, or snarky cartoon characters making an appearance, this is a mournful piano ballad. We find Damon plodding away, in the style of his hero Ray Davies, or Rufus Wainwright.
The man who has, throughout his lyric-writing career, sneered at technological progress, longs for a simpler time. “Give us the day they switch off the machines,” he pleads.
Still, there’s a sense that while not quite an ‘Olympic spirit’, Damon has found his London lover once again. “It was a bright day in my city today,” he sings proudly, before mentioning that he was “watching comets” from his smoggy locale.
And really who better than the man who put East London dog racing on the cover of ‘Parklife’ and made the shipping forecast palatable in ‘This Is a Low’ to celebrate an ugly West London motorway underpass?
In this live, YouTube live version it’s hard to make out Graham’s contribution until the second half, but his guitar twangs and there’s an atmosphere here that’s just gagging for the full orchestral treatment.
And while it’s hard to know if the track has a fate beyond this show, if they did give it the full studio treatment, we’d welcome it with open arms.