Blur : Paris L’Espace Clacquesin

Woo, and indeed, hooo...

Nobody mention Paul Simon. If it’s the imploding stars that shine brightest then it’s no wonder ‘Think Tank’ is such a supernova. Founding members are now dispensable bit-players, the US success of Gorillaz has relegated Blur to little more than Damon’s experimental vanity project and that harbinger of imminent credibility death ‘world music’ – a phrase usually uttered by thirtysomething pop stars a few minutes before ‘how much for that trout farm?’ – hangs over them like a Damoclesian sword. By rights this competition-winners-only micro-gig should be Blur‘s last, doudouk-laden whimper. Rather than this ferocious bang.

There’s a faint sense of unreality to proceedings – the venue is so small and light that Alex winks and shrugs at NME throughout, there’s soul backing singers and tablas all over ‘Topman’ and ‘Badhead’ and, while Simon Tong does a sterling Dead Ringers job on Graham’s guitar gnashings, it’s simply not Blur without Coxon in the corner giving you that feeling that you’ve let a paranoid schizophrenic into your dinner party and let him be ‘mother’.

Not Blur, then, more post-Blur. Blur: The Next Generation eschew the inpenetrable android tummy-rumbles of ’13’ for an earthy electro-Africana, the odd playground larkabout and some apocalyptic noise blitz bits that sound like being on the wrong end of a really pissed off B52. ‘Ambulance’ is Radiohead and Peter Gabriel making a joint treck up an erupting Mount Spiritualized. ‘We’ve Got A File On You’ – played twice, jubilantly – is ‘Song 2’ with a snake charmer’s pipe up its arse. ‘Battery In Your Leg’ is a heart-demolishing “ballad for the good times” played on piano and tidal wave. And ‘Gene By Gene’ is just mental – it starts like some three-year-olds looting a cuckoo clock factory, takes a sharp left down Sesame Street, winds up at a limbo party where Tickle-Me-Elmo’s singing The Clash‘s ‘Bank Robber’, ends with someone hitting a clown’s car with a brick and sets the legendary Alex James Hulahips a-swinging. Woo, and indeed, hooo.

Come the punkarama thrashes of ‘Song 2’ and ‘Crazy Beat’ Damon’s shed his inner Sting and is screaming rabidly with his head actually in the moshpit like he’s trying to wash his miraculous new head of tramp’s hair in kids. Trout farms be damned – this, ye faithful, is a high.

Mark Beaumont