‘Lord, I need to find someone who can heal my mind’
Lyrics from Blur’s wonderfully moving song ‘Tender’. ‘Come on, come on, come on, love’s the greatest thing’. These were the lyrics 55,000 people chanted back to a highly moved Damon Albarn at their Hyde Park gig last Friday night. They looked spectacularly youthful and fittingly 90s retro, as they launched into a set of classic Blur hits.
I was absolutely thrilled to be able to see them. I wanted to drink up every drop of their set! We started the night near the front of the stage, but after a warning from Albarn himself about the ‘overly enthusiastic’ mood of the crowd, we retreated to a more spacious spot. Here we saw the hot sky melt into a clear summer evening, with the audience reaching and punching towards a huge moon. Their lyrics speak of sad ironies (many of which are perhaps now lost, in their anthem status) and observe British culture through a sharply critical but also fond eye. As a teenager particularly fond of English Literature, they were the band of my ‘youth’. I was often to be found slouching around with Blur pounding from the earphones of my walkman. I last saw them on their 2003 tour, where they appeared without Graham Coxon. It was clear that something was missing, but also that Blur phenomenon was not over. Since then, we have waited for them to come back!
Back in the nineties Blur was involved in highly publicised Britpop controversies against rivals Pulp and Oasis. For the past ten years, the band has been in a kind of hibernation, without guitarist Coxon. Damon has been involved in various and diverse music initiatives. But, for now at least, they’re back with gusto (and with Graham). They filled Hyde Park for two successive nights, as well as entertaining audiences throughout the country during June and performing an ecstatic set at Glastonbury 2009. Although the band members have acknowledged that some of their songs had become frustratingly stereotyped, it has become clear that over the years they have become 90s anthems. Like us, most of the audience were in their late twenties or thirties, mixed with teenagers, for whom Blur clearly has a new relevance. Without all the trappings of the Britpop Battle, it is clear that their music has a lasting value. So, I wonder, where will they go now?