Blur @ MODE, London (20.03.2015)
It was a sunny Friday afternoon in West London and the secret was starting to spill all over social media.
It must’ve been complicated enough to organize a concert for the lucky 300 hardcore Blur fans, who won tickets for the band’s new album preview gig on March 20th, but it turned more complicated when word got out that the legendary quartet might have started setting up their equipment many hours earlier.
This time in music history the commotion wasn’t in vain for, that afternoon at club Mode in Notting Hill, Blur played their upcoming album ‘The Magic Whip’ to a packed house full of friends and family, only to do it one more time a couple of hours later at the highly anticipated and exclusive 7pm gig.
With a small capacity of several hundred people, a glorious fully restored organ on stage and a small plane hanging from the ceiling, Mode was the most unusual yet perfectly fitting setting for an event as special as hearing Blur’s first album in 12 years live. And the choice of venue resonated with the emotional charge of ‘The Magic Whip’ on more than one level.
In February, at a Facebook-streamed press conference for the album, Damon Albarn shared that the recording process of ‘The Magic Whip’ had been reminiscent of the band’s beginnings. ‘We didn’t have much [equipment]’, he said, ’It was like back when we first started recording stuff’.
The ‘back when we first started’ feeling was a shared one at Mode that Friday, with people passionately commenting on the ‘classic Blur sound’ while leaving the venue.
From all-out, hard-hitting, guitar-led numbers to songs with a moodier ambience – helped by a string quartet and backing vocalists – the guys instantly reminded us why over a decade is way too long for a new album by the cult powerhouse that is Blur.
Peeking into a lady’s phone screen right next to me during one of the last songs Blur performed, I read a message saying ‘Wait till you hear them live.’ And with the release of ‘The Magic Whip’ set for April 27th and Albarn’s promise that there will be more gigs after the band’s headlining stint at British Summer Time Hyde Park in June, that message may ring true for a lot more than a couple of hundred lucky fans in West London.
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