Gareth Cattermole, Getty So maybe Gorillaz and Blur aren't finished after…
- Posted on Oct 8th 2010 9:45AM by Kenneth Partridge
Claire Greenway, Getty Images
Performing Thursday night at New York City's Ed Sullivan Theater as part of the 'Live on Letterman' webcast series, Albarn's hip-pop electro-dub rock 'n' roll circus needed little in the way of theatrics. A video screen flashed animated sequences starring Hewlett's characters, but they were superfluous at best. When your real-life band includes De La Soul and two former members of the Clash, who needs make-believe?
Thursday's nine-song, 45-minute set offered a preview of the show Gorillaz would give the following night at Madison Square Garden, a venue that, while not as large as some of the European festival grounds Albarn has played, still signals a kind of victory.
"I've been waiting my whole life for tomorrow night," Albarn said, standing on another iconic stage, one the Beatles played in 1964.
Insofar as the Beatles made it OK for rock groups to wear funny clothes and incorporate art and pageantry into their music, Gorillaz are direct descendents. On opener 'Kids With Guns,' the group's two drummers dropped a spare dance beat, while the two background singers quoted from Salt-N-Pepa's 'Push It.' Most of the band wore sailor costumes, in keeping with the nautical theme of Gorillaz latest album, 'Plastic Beach,' but Albarn opted for a '70s punk look, rocking a red striped T-shirt and leather jacket.
'O Green World,' up next, featured radar-blip keyboards and blunt, funky low end, complements of ex-Clash bassist Paul Simonon -- still the coolest guy in the room. His former bandmate Mick Jones, resplendent in full-on admiral gear, bashed out simple guitar chords and strutted like he'd just returned from winning a war.
De La Soul bum-rushed the stage on 'Superfast Jellyfish,' a sugar-sweet banger whose nimble rhymes and gangsta-stroll pace should have made it this summer's official jam. The wistful synth lick of 'On Melancholy Hill' slowed the party down, but by the time Gorillaz made it to 'Feel Good Inc.' and 'Clint Eastwood,' the final two songs, those with tickets for the Garden show had already begun cursing the 23 hours standing between them and another genre-melting dance party.
During 'Clint Eastwood,' perhaps the only melodica-driven dub track ever to chart in America, Albarn invited folks in the first couple of rows to join him onstage. The gang faced the camera and chanted the only message anyone need take away from Gorillaz music: "The future is coming on."