Gorillaz at the O2
On Tuesday, musician Damon Albarn assembles a live band under the Gorillaz moniker to celebrate the NHS. On Wednesday, the celebration continues and the crowd loves every minute.
As part of the festivities, a range of guests are dotted throughout – from indie icons Robert Smith and Peter Hook to Wassoulou songstress Fatoumata Diawara – and the crowd euphorically welcomes each one. These reactions alone prove the audience’s indubitable desire to dance and party, something which Albarn visibly delights in. However, early sound imbalances mean the vocals are muddy for the first two songs and the bass is so heavy that the guitars of kraut-punk opener M1-A1 are barely audible. Eventually the sound improves, but the bass continues to dominate the mix. Nonetheless, this is ideal for the disco-influenced Andromeda and perfect for the dancehall and reggae-influenced new tracks Meanwhile and DeJa Vu – a nod to the carnival-themed direction the new Gorillaz album will take. For the most part, the audience seem blissfully unaware of the minor sound disparities
Though their guitars may have taken a slight back seat, the band’s hits are not hidden away. Those who were not on their feet for the incendiary trance-driven Garage Palace, with Little Simz in full rapid-fire flow, leap up when the pulsing beat of DARE kicks in. While Shaun Ryder needs to be vocally and performatively propped by Rowetta, the crowd could not care less that he sounds as if he is barking into the microphone. Indeed, this track heralds a steady flow of rowdily-received hits including the funky Dirty Harry and the outright amazing Feel Good Inc., which is given new life by the explosive Posdunos.
By the end, the crowd is reminded there is beauty in the breadth of influences that Gorillaz are inspired by. After Clint Eastwood segues into the alacritous EDM-reggae remix featuring artist Sweetie Irie, the harmonious gospel-influenced backing singers send the audience home in tranquil wonder with their dulcet tones reverberating around the arena during set-closer Demon Days.
It might seem strange to end on a comparatively downbeat song, but the beauty of the concert is the joy that can be found in embracing and savouring musical diversity. All in all, the live version of Gorillaz offers the perfect celebration of the gamut of Western music and the act of coming together to relish it.
Photos: Guifre De Peray
For further information and future events visit Gorillaz’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Strange Timez ft Robert Smith here: