Blur made their live comeback tonight (June 13), playing an intimate “friends and family” gig at the East Anglian Railway Museum near Colchester.
Playing their first gig as a four-piece in nearly a decade, the band – who first confirmed their reformation to NME.COM last year – performed in a converted goods shed at Chappel And Wakes Colne just outside the town centre, the scene of the band’s first ever public performance 20 years earlier.
“If you could make your way into the hall,” frontman Damon Albarn instructed the crowd, which included long-term producer Stephen Street, as they kicked off with first ever single ‘She’s So High’, before dipping into two tracks from 1994 album ‘Parklife’ in the form of ‘Girls And Boys’ and ‘Tracy Jacks’.
“It’s a bit different to last time we played here,” Albarn later told the audience ahead of a rocked-up version of ‘Jubilee’, referring to the birthday party the group originally performed at the museum before they were even called Seymour, the name they had before Blur.
“Thanks for coming to see us play,” the singer told the fans ahead of ‘Trimm Trabb’. “I don’t know if it’s been 10 years, but 10 years is an easy number!”
Lead singer duties were then handed over to guitarist Graham Coxon for ‘Coffee & TV’, before he shared vocals with Albarn on ‘Tender’.
They then tore through a faithful rendition of 1995 Number One single ‘Country House’, rather than the revamped version the band had previously hinted at playing.
Later, the four-piece performed single ‘Parklife’ with Albarn, bouncing around the stage, delivering all the vocals in the absence of actor Phil Daniels, who is expected to link-up with them at later dates.
Playing a spirited version of ‘End Of A Century’, Blur then ploughed into ‘To The End’.
Ending their initial set with ‘This Is A Low’, the band quickly re-emerged to blast into ‘Popscene’.
‘Advert’ followed, with Albarn stage-diving into the audience and crowd surfing around during the instrumental section, before the band then showed off a version of ‘Song 2’ which saw them slowly build the drums up to the track’s usual frenetic speed.
Proving there are no hard feelings, Blur then performed ‘Out Of Time’, a track Coxon did not originally feature on due to his absence from the band during most of the ‘Think Tank sessions, though his spine-chilling guitar part aptly fitted into the 2003 hit.
Fittingly, they followed it with ‘Battery In Your Leg’ – the one track on the same album the guitarist did perform on.
After a hand vote in the audience between ‘Sing’ and ‘Essex Dogs’, the latter, in its home county, predictably won, before the group wrapped up their two-hour set with ‘For Tomorrow’ and ‘The Universal’.
‘She’s So High’
‘Girls And Boys’
‘There’s No Other Way’
‘Coffee & TV’
‘End Of A Century’
‘To The End’
‘This Is A Low’
‘Out Of Time’
‘Battery In Your Leg’
See NME soon for an exclusive behind-the-scenes report from the gig. In the meantime check out our editor’s song by song account of the show via Twitter.