Blur at Eventim Apollo
Blur have had quite the summer so far, with a pair of widely acclaimed Wembley shows (marking their first appearance there), and a rapturous reception for their latest record The Ballad of Darren. With this being their first album and set of live gigs in nearly a decade, it’s safe to say their return has lived up to expectations.
Last night, the band played The Ballad of Darren in its entirety at London’s Eventim Apollo in an intimate performance that underlined how much love has been poured into the record from Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree. Each member was on terrific form, giving many of the tracks their live debut to a highly engaged audience.
From opener The Ballad to The Heights, it was clear how in sync the group are after a few weeks of touring and with a feverish sense of anticipation around the record. Albarn poked fun at himself throughout, engaging the crowd and showing the personal connection he has to the new material.
While The Ballad of Darren is not always anthemic in nature, the more energetic moments saw the crowd whipped into a frenzy, especially on St Charles Square and lead single The Narcissist. Hearing the songs in a live setting really did them justice and demonstrated why Blur have such a following, even if they don’t tour or record on a regular basis. A new Blur album and tour is rightly an event and playing their latest record in full felt like the culmination of a victory lap.
There was no weak link among the new tracks, with Albarn at ease both sitting at the piano and playing guitar at the front of the stage. There was also fine interplay between him and Coxon, the performance quality reflecting how strong a record this is.
After the run-through of the album, the audience were treated to a collection of B sides and rarely played tracks, including Clover Over Dover, Mr Briggs and All Your Life, before a crowd singalong and rousing rendition of The Universal to round off an emotional and intimate evening, with both the group and fans in fine voice. The choice of encore tracks felt like the band acknowledging their fans, and not wheeling out the hits helped make this gig feel more unique.
This is the last leg of their UK run of shows and we can only hope there isn’t an eight-year wait for their next record or set of performances, with the past few weeks proving Blur are still more than a match for many groups on the live stage, and remain hugely relevant to the UK music scene.
Photos: Phoebe Fox
For further information and future events visit Blur’s website here.
Watch the video for the single St Charles Square here: