Blur have reformed to play some of the biggest gigs of their career. Here’s a review of their performance at Hyde Park, London, 2nd July 2009.
The LED billboard reads ‘Welcome to Blur at Hyde Park. Drink water, wear sunscreen. Have a great time!’
Four songs into Blur’s performance and Damon’s singing ‘Tracy Jacks’. 55,000 fans are singing with him. We’re having a great time. The mid-twenties woman standing next to me is jabbing her finger into the air, finishing Damon’s lyric for him; “His putt is erratic”.
Blur jog through ‘She’s So High’, ‘Girls & Boys”, Tracy Jacks’, ‘There’s No Other Way’, ‘Jubilee’ and ‘Badhead’.
For ‘Beetlebum’ they work themselves into a frenzy. The sunlight is fading. The stage lights are brighter.
Before ‘Out of Time’, Damon recalls the anti-war protest: “Two million people marched into this park in 2003, and tried to stop something and you know what happened, I just want to remind myself about it.”
Damon’s screaming during ‘Trimm Trabb’. Lights strobe. Graham sings ‘Coffee & TV’. Alex is smiling. Oh my baby. ‘Tender’ unites the crowd in extended sing-a-long. Oh my baby. A line of white light illuminates the stage. Oh my baby.
Now it’s ‘Country House’. Topless lads climbing on each other’s shoulders. It’s a favourite with those in the audience who don’t have English as their first language.
‘Oily Water’, ‘Chemical World’, then it’s ‘Sunday Sunday’. Damon encourages us to jog on the spot to ‘Parklife’, and tells us that he came up with the idea for the song while people-watching in Hyde Park.
“She said there’s ants in the carpet / Dirty little monsters / Eating all the morsels / Picking up the rubbish”
‘End Of A Century’ is sing-a-long and beautiful. It’s night. A glitterball descends and we’re singing ‘To The End’. Beams of light shoot into the audience. Damon is staring out.
Then we’re singing “This is a low / But it won’t hurt you / When you’re alone / It will be there with you”. During ‘This is a low’ the strong beam of a lighthouse sweeps the swaying audience. Damon’s scrunched up and sitting down on stage, rocking back and forth. A huge cheer when the song ends.
It’s 9:54pm, the band leave the stage. The crowd sings “Oh my baby” from ‘Tender’.
Blur reappear and play ‘Popscene’ and ‘Advert’. The crowd erupts to ‘Song 2’. In huge red letters, ‘Vote Dave’ scrolls across the backcloth. Woo Hoo. They leave the stage again. Then return to play ‘Death Of A Party’.
“For everyone who lives in this wonderful mixed-up city” is how Damon introduces the wonderful ‘For Tomorrow’. We’re singing along. He mouthes ‘I love you’ to crowd.
The last song is ‘The Universal’. “No one here is alone / Satellites in every home / Yes the universal’s here / Here for everyone / Every paper that you read / Says tomorrow is your lucky day / Well, here’s your lucky day / It really, really, really could happen / Yes, it really, really, really could happen / When the days they seem to fall through you, well just let them go”.
It seems we’re all singing, remembering, celebrating something or other. During the swelling instrumental Damon holds the microphone in the air. The two big screens flanking the stage show the mic in his fist, behind the mic a sea of heads in Hyde Park.
“That was better than when I saw then in ’94” says someone behind me, as the band exit for the final time. Warm light bathes the crowd. We’re walking away. One girl turns back to her friend, “That was f***kin sweet”.
“Oh my baby / Oh my baby / Oh why / Oh my” echoes off the tiled walls of Marble Arch tube station as the fans make their way home.