30 January '99, The Depot Studios, London, UK
Fan Club Gig
reviewed by Toby Langley
Capacity (including large guestlist) : approx. 350/400 people
Running time : 80 mns
Trailer Park (formerly South Park)
No Distance Left To Run --->
There's No Other Way
I walked into what was the shape of a squared venue, which was tiny and saw an even smaller stage. There were about only 25 lights altogether that were scattered in sets of 5 and 6 around the stage. I couldn't believe that chart-topping, million-selling, huge band could play such a place, but they certainly rocked it.
The band walked on, but Damon was missing. I could see that he was signing loads of autographs for people who didn't get into the gig and after he had done his task, he walked onstage to huge applause. For the first time ever, Alex played the double bass (!) on Tender and just before the song, Damon said, "We're going to play some new songs - I hope you like them." Tender was played without the aid of a choir, and they didn't even use a backing track. It worked very well, and Graham impressed the most with his guitar solos and country/blues chord sequence. Next up was a punky song that will have Song 2 fans thanking god that they created another one. Having said that, it's not as catchy as Song 2, but when Damon sings "na na na na na na yeah, yeah" you can't help singing along.
Coffee and TV was very impressive and catchy with Graham taking lead vocals on the song, which was one of the highlights of the set. Swamp Song was brilliant; how it was to be a b-side I don't know! Graham played a wonderfully created chord sequence that repeated and repeated throughout the whole song while the whole crowd danced to the beat. 1992 seemed very much like old Blur ("it was found in an old box and we put it on the new album") and reminded me of Oily Water's difficult-to-listen-to style and didn't impress too many people and seemed to alienate people, if anything. Despite that, I'm sure I'll get used to it when the album's out. It was around this time that Alex put on an Arsenal Football Club scalf to annoy Damon because tomorrow is Chelsea vs that demon team. Damon then said, "That's just offensive! Don't take him as a good example!" BLUREMI was a catchy punk song that recited the letters "B-L-U-R-E-M-I!" over and over. It was a great tune that will stick in my head for days. Next up was Graham's fave new track Battle, which was quite slow and very different to what they've done so far. Mellow Song started with just Damon on acoustic guitar for about 2 minutes (before the band kicked in) and it was evident that he had really improved his playing. The next track Trailer Park got the most cheers because after its debut at Glastonbury and the smaller shows, a lot of people became fond of the song. Trimm Trabb really blew me away; Damon explained that Trimm Trabb was an old kind of Adidas trainer, but he didn't know why it was the song's title! Graham played lead acoustic guitar for the first time ever! I couldn't help dancing to the beat and Alex, being very close to me, saw my dancing, smiled and winked at me which was great! Once again, midway into the song, Blur went electric and Graham brought back his reliable, same guitar!
They encored with No Distance Left To Run; a new song inspired by Damon's break up with Justine that was really depressing. Damon introduced it as the "f***ed up song" simply because it brought back memories of his long term relationship with his ex. One lyric was "If you see me in the street,turn around and walk away". Graham, who previously pulled out his huge guitar only for This Is A Low, played it along with this song, which surprised a few people (sorry I don't know the guitar name!). At thatpoint, I was happy enough to go home after a great, special night that provided an insight into the new direction for the band, but that wasn't enough for Blur.
They surprisingly returned to play three of their biggest hits: Beetlebum, There's No Other Way and "the song for The Simpsons" (Song 2). During There's No Other Way, Damon had lots of water thrown into his face and at the song's end, he asked," Was that beer or piss thrown into my face?" Of course everyone said "piss" just to annoy him. He then said "What a nice place!". They had found out on Monday that Song 2 would feature in the show when Homer and co. walk into the Superbowl Stadium for an American football match! Anyway, they walked off leaving us happy with everyone then being forced out of the venue as quickly as possible. It was then I realised that they hadn't played Parklife, Girls and Boys, For Tomorrow etc., but I smiled to myself and thought that they no longer needed to.
Basically, for all those Blur fans who are worried about Blur's new direction, don't be, they're better than ever.
(c) Toby Langley 2000 onwards. All international rights reserved.
reviewed by Virginie Sabin
I was one of those lucky fans who got some tickets for the secret gig. It was really great. I travelled from France specially for the gig, so you can imagine how excited I was to get there.
I won't make a review of what they played; some of you have made it very well.
I just wanted to say hello to the people I met there (I was the one with the yellow jacket). I've been waiting for hours after the gig in order to meet THEM. So I had time to talk to several other fans: Lorna, my room mate, Dan/clone of Damon! and his friends (who tried to get into the building and were ejected), that girl who was complaining about looking too young (who I said she'll be happy when she's 30), those two girls who I sang "Please don't kill our singer" with, that girl we met inside, who seemed so amazed we had made that trip only for a night... and all the others, who (un)fortunately gave up waiting.
I think we were the only French fans being there (3 of us).
Those who were there may have had the chance to see Damon, Alex, Graham and Dave through the windows in the stairs.
But those who waited till about 3 in the morning were the luckiest (I was one of those). I must admit we had thought giving up several times. We were freezing, and getting very impatient, not really knowing if it was worth waiting. But when we saw them, all our violence was gone.
First came Alex. We talked to him in French, saying that we'd been waiting for hours. He answered "Oh la la, mes enfants" (Oh, my children)! Then he wrote "merci" on our cards, and said "merci pour avoir m'attendu" (which could be translated by thanks for waiting me).
He climbed into the taxi and went away, making goodbye with his hand.
Then came Damon, with his habitual bottle of beer in one hand. I was the first in the "queue", so I told him that we had been waiting for hours and that we came from France specially for them. He answered "Thanks. Did you enjoy it?" I said yes, and he asked me "Are you a star ?" I didn't expect that at all, and I didn't know what to say! He went on "I thought you were, because you're very posh". He signed a couple of autographs with my pen, which I think I'll never use again!, and got into a taxi.
I think Dave went out while we were with Damon, because I didn't see him.
Then Graham went out very quickly, and signed one of his artwork postcards that the girl I came with was holding.
I still don't believe I've been talking to Alex and Damon, and I'm so amazed that Damon told me all that!!
I'm extremely happy, and also frustrated not to have had more ! But the more you get, the more you want. I really look forward to meeting them again.
Anyway, I'll be back to London from the 10th to the 12th of February (I'll be in Wembley wednesday evening for England vs. France), to make my daydream go on...
Sorry for that long message (sorry if my english is rough). I needed to explain all that happened to those obstinate French fans!
Virginie (Two's A Crowd)
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