Blur returned to Hyde Park last night (August 12) – three years after their two acclaimed comback shows at the central London venue.
The Britpop legends played as part of the Mayor of London’s Olympic closing ceremony celebrations.
Performing under a giant stage set of London’s Westway dual carriageway, the band kicked off with 1994 hit ‘Girls & Boys’ – which you can watch fan-filmed footage of below, before launching into ‘Parklife’ favourites ‘London Loves’, ‘Tracy Jacks’ and ‘Jubilee’.
After renditions of 1997 UK Number One single ‘Beetlebum’ and ’13”s ‘Coffee & TV’, Albarn then dedicated a rendition of ‘Out Of Time’ to the people of Syria and the “athletes that were not able to compete because of the current political situation in their country”.
“We dedicate this to all our children,” Albarn told the crowd before B-side ‘Young And Lovely’. “It didn’t make sense when we first recorded it, but it does now,” he said.
A rendition of ‘Parklife’ followed, with Phil Daniels joining the band on stage alongside comedian Harry Enfield dressed as a tea lady. “We dedicate this to a British institution always forgotten – the tea lady,” Albarn beamed.
‘Song 2’ saw Albarn bounce around the stage before a more mellow finale of ‘No Distance Left To Run’, a singalong to ‘Tender’ and ‘This Is A Low’.
Returning for an encore of ‘Under The Westway’, which was written especially for the Hyde Park show, Albarn told the crowd:
This song was written just for you. We’ve been watching a lot of telly recently. There’s been no adverts, which we think has done us a world of good.
Praising the athletes, he said: “We’ve seen so much graft. It’s been amazing.” Albarn also singled out double gold medal winner Mo Farah for praise, describing him as a “incredible human being”, and encouraging the crowd to do Farah’s trademark ‘Mobot’ move.
Launching straight into ‘End Of A Century’ from a brief ‘Intermission’, Albarn jumped into the crowd amid bouncing fans, before climbing back onstage for ‘For Tomorrow’ and a grand finale of ‘The Universal’.
Despite the band’s performance, many fans were disappointed with the quiet sound levels. Charlie Roper, 22, said: “To be completely honest. I thought it was too quiet. Blur played very well but I felt lots of people weren’t having the experience they came here for. The band were great but the sound levels were just so wrong.”
However, other fans said the atmosphere made up for it. Leo Gee, 32 said:
Incredible. I’ve seen Blur several times, but this was by far and away their best gig. The atmosphere, the weather, the whole vibe was spot on. It’s a shame about the volume, but the quality made up for it.
Matt Sharp, 33 added: “I was here a few years ago for the reunion gig and that was amazing. Tonight was a great selection of songs – there’s just so many people here. It’s absolutely incredible.”
Lindsey Roddam, 26, said: “I loved it. They were really emotional. You could tell that they just loved it so much and we did just as much. The energy – the performance was amazing. The staging was great too. Everyone’s had such a good two weeks with the Olympics and this was the perfect way to end it.”
Earlier in the day Hyde Park had witnessed performances by Bombay Bicycle Club, New Order and The Specials.
‘Girls & Boys’
‘Coffee & TV’
‘Out Of Time’
‘Young and Lovely’
‘No Distance Left To Run’
‘This Is A Low’
‘Under The Westway’
‘End Of A Century’