On the journey to the Civic, I was trying to recall the last time I’d seen a show there. Growing up in the Midlands, the Wolves Civic had – over my formative years – become a rare live music gem in an area that consisted of run down venues and an unwavering fascination with eighties hair metal. The first band I ever saw there was The Charlatans in 1996. After racking my brain, it turned out the last time I’d visited was in 2001… to see The Charlatans. There’s a pattern forming here. It only took seconds after walking into the venue that a bucket load of memories came rushing back. Nothing had changed – everything about the place remained the same. I even bumped into some old hometown faces I’d not seen in almost a decade, exchanging a few awkward words: ”what have you been upto??”, “oh, not a lot” I’d reply.
Over the years I saw Super Furry Animals, Paul Weller, Manic Street Preachers, Suede and an endless list of names I can’t remember (even my own band played there once, but that was another lifetime). None were as special as Blur though. They couldn’t be, really. Aside from The Charlatans, Blur remain the only British band that is genuinely as important to me now as when I was an awkward teenager and indeed, the only band I’ve stuck with since the very beginning. From Leisure to Think Tank; every album a tour de force in classic song-writing, social commentary, anti-commercial sentiment and widespread commercial appeal (sometimes over the course of the same album). Yes, Blur were and always will be one of the great British pop groups.
And don’t they know it. Emerging stage left on Sunday evening, just a few moments before 9pm – Indie, Arty, Cheesy and Dave appeared to a deafening cry of screams and cheers. Saluting the two thousand capacity audience, they wasted no time with a four song tour de force from their 1994 breakthrough album Parklife. Adjectives can’t even begin to explain the sheer delight of hearing Graham Coxon chime out the opening chords to ‘Tracy Jacks’, so I won’t even try.
The thing is with Blur, for every massive mainstream hit they produced – there was always a challenging counterpoint for the deep thinkers. ‘Trimm Trabb’, ‘Caramel’, ‘Out Of Time’, ‘No Distance Left To Run’ – these aren’t easy songs to listen to. Yet strewn across a greatest hits set – these quieter moments gave the audience a chance to breath and reflect. ‘Parklife’ followed by the sonic battering of ‘Oily Water’? Genius.
Anyone that went to this show will know that they saw something special. Whether Blur reform properly to make a new record or trot back to their solo projects (and farms, and political campaigns) – is really irrelevant. Safe in the knowledge that there will always be a little bit of their heart devoted to it – the two hours and 27 song set will be more than enough to tide us over for a few more years.
Girls & Boys
Coffee & TV
Out of Time
Young & Lovely
No Distance Left to Run
This Is a Low
Under The Westway
End of a Century