Blur headlined London’s Hyde Park for the third time since 2009 last night, bringing material from new album ‘The Magic Whip’ and their ’90s hits to the British Summer Time Festival.
Arriving on stage in broad daylight at 8pm, the two-hour plus set began with ‘Magic Whip’ single ‘Go Out’. Frontman Damon Albarn was on energetic form, shouting “Let’s fucking have this” as he ran across the stage, gathering cheers from the audience.
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Referencing the conditions which blighted support act Metronomy’s set, Albarn added; “Thank fuck it isn’t raining.”
Prior to the band arriving on stage an ice cream man in a small van parked on the stage made ice creams while the van played the ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic’ song. Shortly after second song ‘There’s No Other Way’, Albarn took the ice creams down to the front row and began sharing them out with fans. However, eager to get hold of one, fans began grabbing at the treats leaving Albarn to jokingly describe the stunt as a “disaster”.
Splitting the set between new album material and fan favourites, Blur played five songs from ‘The Magic Whip’, including a plaintive version of ‘Thought I Was A Spaceman’ and the riotous ‘I Broadcast’. “It’s lovely to be back,” Albarn said after a jaunty run through ‘Lonesome Street’. Adding, “It feels like home.” The gig was the third time Blur have played Hyde Park with the band playing after reforming in 2009 and again to mark the end of the London Olympics in 2012.
However, while the new material was well received and justified the band’s third appearance at Hyde Park in six years, it was the music from Blur’s ’90s heyday that was most warmly received.
Graham Coxon played his guitar on his head during ‘Coffee + TV’, one of the first big singalongs of the night, while Damon Albarn embraced the crowd and held hands with fans during the spiky ‘Trimm Trabb’. Meanwhile, the vibrant backdrop of lurid colours and images of ice cream cones proved the perfect visual accompaniment for the cartoon-like run of ‘Parklife’, ‘Song 2’ and ‘Girls and Boys’. Quadrophenia and Eastenders actor Phil Daniels joined the band for his famous cameo on ‘Parklife’ and was in playful mood, grabbing at Damon Albarn and chasing him around the stage.
The singalong spirit begun by Coxon on ‘Coffee + TV’ returned during the set’s closing moments with ‘This Is A Low’ and ‘For Tomorrow’ uniting fans as the sun went down and night creeped across Hyde Park. Only a technical error before the encore began with ‘Stereotypes’ pushed the set off course. With the visuals crashing and a PC desktop being shown to thousands of fans, Albarn could only apologise and say: “”You don’t expect that of us.”
Albarn paid tribute to the fans one more time (“We couldn’t do this without you”) before dedicating final song ‘The Universal’ to “a lovely lady named Ethel.”
‘There’s No Other Way’
‘Coffee & TV’
‘Out of Time’
‘Thought I Was a Spaceman’
‘He Thought of Cars’
‘End of a Century’
‘Trouble in the Message Centre’
‘To the End’
‘This Is a Low’
‘Girls & Boys’