Gareth Cattermole, Getty So maybe Gorillaz and Blur aren't finished after…
- Posted on Oct 9th 2010 12:00PM by Kenneth Partridge
Michael Loccisano, Getty Images
Then there was Lou Reed, making a much-anticipated cameo on 'Some Kind of Nature.'
But before he even started singing, the legendary Velvet Underground founder was shooting eye-daggers at the stagehand tasked with setting up his music stand. Once the song began, Reed spent most of his time making violent gestures toward the sound man, who'd evidently mixed his vocals too low.
Reed's cannonball of a performance wasn't enough to sink the Gorillaz party boat, but it was a reminder that Albarn isn't infallible. The former Blur frontman is prone to overreaching and mixing influences willy-nilly, and that can lead to clunkers like 'Sweepstakes,' an overlong carnival-themed rap tune that squandered the talents of special guest Mos Def.
If ambition sometimes got the best of Albarn, his triumphs far outnumbered his fiascoes. On the brilliant likes of 'Stylo,' a showcase for soul great Bobby Womack, and 'Feel Good Inc.,' one of two songs to benefit from the infectious clowning of De La Soul, Gorillaz proved freaky, funky and funny, fulfilling the promise of a group ostensibly fronted by comic-book characters.
Commanding a band that included a seven-piece string section, four backup singers, two keyboardists, two drummers and former Clash members Mick Jones and Paul Simonon, Albarn flitted between instruments, moving much like the cartoon musicians on the giant video backdrop. If he wasn't at the keyboard, as on the drowsy, dubbed-out 'El Manana,' or ringing a fake Liberty Bell, like he did on the techno-glam instrumental throwdown 'Glitter Freeze,' he was hopping around at the front of the stage, flashing a smile that revealed the gold tooth he'd worn for the occasion.
Albarn's idealism hit a peak with the gospel-reggae closer 'Demon Days,' which found Jones and Simonon in their comfort zone, floating the kind of swampy Kingston groove they might have tried on side five of the Clash's 'Sandinista!' "Don't burn yourself/ turn yourself around to the sun," the song urged. It's advice Lou Reed might consider, and he's already got the sunglasses.
Watch the band's intro and performance of 'Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach' at last night's show below.