With threatening skies overhead, I became increasingly worried about my first foray into Hyde Park gigging. I’ve loved the Essex foursome Blur since my teens and thought jumping around in the sun at their last reunion gig would be perfect, if the weather held! After seeing the coverage of this year’s Glastonbury, it was obvious that a break of four years had only done the band immense good.
I arrived at the park to see the magnificent Florence and the Machine strut their stuff. http://www.myspace.com/florenceandthemachinemusic Florence’s ethereal, powerful voice carried over the already heaving crowd and during the beautiful ‘Dog Days are Over’ as the sun finally burned the clouds away. There was an ever-present festival feel, not bad for the centre of London. I knew nothing of the next support act Amadou&Mariam but their laid back Malian vibe, already a big hit with Mr Albarn, was a quirky change of direction. An hour later Vampire Weekend came on and definitely upped the ante, especially when they rocked their hit ‘A Punk’.
The event had been better organised than I had expected, with polite queuing for the drinks tents and less polite queuing for the not too shabby toilet facilities.
When Blur came on with She’s So High everyone went crazy. They blasted a nice mix of high profile tracks (Coffee & TV, Beetlebum, Girls and Boys) mingled with stuff for the fans (Trimm Trabb, Badhead, Oily Water) cleverly picking from their vast back catalogue, alternating between sunny pop melodies and surly ballads.
There wasn’t any mention of Alex James’ cheesemaking, but he was as cool as ever, and we even got Phil Daniels on a very fast-paced Parklife. The band seemed in sync, and they gave it their all on the blisteringly hot night. Stew Dean (no relation!) has some natty photos posted here .
Alas the performance wasn’t without incident. Although Blur behaved impeccably, I can’t say the same for the over-enthusiastic Friday night fans. More than once Damon, clad in his usual Fred Perry polo, had to use his megaphone to tell everyone to calm down. Myriad plastic bottles were chucked from the back and after making a dash for the front towards the end, I had to turn back when the aggressive throng became too much. It was as if Blur’s music was a siren’s call of regression back to stupid youthful behaviour. Well, we were all drinking cider in a park!
The band gave not one but two encores. The first featuring Song 2 cleverly referencing Dave Rowntree’s burgeoning political career as the screens lit up ‘VOTE DAVE’. The second gave us For Tomorrow and finished on crowd-pleasing The Universal. With the pack gently swaying in unison we all sang “It really really could happen” and we all knew that it really really had. The essence of Blur in 25 stunning songs. Unforgettable.
You can buy a live album of the 3 July gig for £15 from: