2 July '99, Werchter Festival, Belgium

reviewed by Virginie Sabin

I was in Werchter (Belgium) last Friday, with Maryse and Virginie G..
That gig was just great. I was at the Depot gig on the 30th of January (where they played the new album for the first time; nobody had heard it before), and this time was really different. I now realise that 13 is at its best when it's played live (even if we missed Swamp Song so much...).
So, here's the review!

Set list:
Tender, Bugman, Coffee & TV, 1992, BLUREMI, Battle, Trimm Trabb, No distance left to run. Encore: Beetlebum, Popscene, This is a low, Girls & boys, Song 2.

As they got on stage, the crowd went mad. Damon was wearing kaki trousers and an "Illson" dark blue T-shirt (written like the Wilson logo). Alex was wearing a dark shirt and dark trousers. I must admit I didn't see Dave much (he was too far behind, and I was too close from the stage). I was further from Graham. All I remembered was a striped T-shirt. I was in front of Alex, which was a good place, because I think that in the middle the view was a little bit restricted.
It was not just like an ordinary festival, when people don't really care which band they see. It was really like a gig with really lots of fans! As I was lucky enough to stand in the first row, where I got all bruised (I am still covered with blue marks!). They seemed really happy to be on stage, and the songs were really great. Tender, Bugman, and Coffee & TV went so fast! I was just so excited with the event, that maybe I concentrated too much on taking photos. 1992 worked very well. The crowd was like captivated and very concentrated, even if there were more and more crowd surfers passing all over my head (but they were not real fans; they were just coming from the back and kind of achieving something, so that they could tell their friend "I did it, while Blur were playing!"). BLUREMI was psychedelic. It's really far from the album version when it's played live. It could easily have been followed by some "Chinese Bombs" or "Bank Holiday". The last three were less energetic, back to some kind of wisdom. Battle was really a highlight (as though not my favourite). I think it deserves a live interpretation! People were really listening (which you don't really get playing in festivals).
They got off stage, leaving a demanding audience. They finally came back (of course they did!), and Damon said something like "We're gonna play older songs now". They started with Beetlebum (Damon didn't have his Essex guitar, but another one). I got more and more crushed on the fence. Then came Popscene. There was that guy on my right who went mad (he had just asked for Popscene!). As some people told recently on the list, Popscene is the definitive live song. It always works so well! I was particularly happy and surprised to hear This is a low, and even more to hear the intro for... Girls & boys! Two Parklife songs! Wow. I noticed that strange grin on Graham's face when he started the guitar part of G&B, like telling Damon "I know... I didn't want to play it again... OK, I'll have fun all the same". The guitar was more rough sometimes, which suits the live set good. Then came Song 2, with that longer intro they had already used at Glasto last year, and at the Depot too, I think. Some people didn't realise it was Song 2 at first. Then, everybody started to jump all over, it was really impressive! Damon was impressed too, I think. They said good night, and got out.
Everything went so fast! We were shouting "we want more", but of course they didn't come back (festival schedules!... moreover, they started a bit late).
So people spread, and techno music started (the roadies were already preparing the set for the Chemical Brothers).
That was a great night, and I really appreciated to hear 13 live again, with after several listenings (at the Depot, we were all discovering the songs for the first time). And it was so good (yes, so good) to hear 13 songs and G&B in the same gig! G&B, I don't really listen to on purpose, you know, but hearing it live that night was really a great experience. G&B is not part of the Britpop history, but of Blur history now. It was a good idea to put it in the set list. I don't know if I'm very clear, I'm just trying to say that we listen to it in a different way now.
So that's been long enough now.
Last thing (more personal one): I had eye contact with Damon, during G&B (while "always should be...). He was crouching in front of me, and was singing with the people in front of him. He was not really looking at someone in particular, but I really had the impression that he stopped on me, smiled at me while nodding, like saying "oh, it's you!". Maybe I'm wrong (anyway, let me believe it's true!... but it was anyway). Or maybe he recognised me (I had already met him at the Depot, where we had talked for a while).
OK, I stop now. Thanks to everyone who's been reading this whole review!

Virginie (Two's A Crowd)

PS: thanks to my friend Maryse. We've been a long, long way together [with Blur], through the hard times and the weird...

reviewed by Lilian Eijkelkamp

Well, Blur were great at Werchter!
Started half an hour late, but they were worth waiting. Damon started with his excuses for that.
In the first part they only played "13" songs : Tender, Bugman, Coffee & TV, 1992, BLUREMI, Battle, Trimm Trabb and No Distance left to run.
Second part were oldies; Beetlebum, Popscene, This is a low, Girls & Boys, Song 2.
So no Swamp Song, though they did play it in Amsterdam 3 weeks ago. It's one of my favourites of 13, so I really missed it.
Damon was wild as he always is, Graham once jumped so high that he fell on the ground while playing the guitar, and he was just playing on.
I had never been in such a big crowd for a Blur gig so it was really great to hear everyone sing along at Girls & Boys and Song 2.

Lilian Eijkelkamp


On the net I found a report (written in Dutch) of Blur's show at Werchter. I thought that maybe it would be nice for you to read it as well so I translated it. They mention that Swamp Song was played as well but that's not true.

Report Blur - Werchter, July 2nd 1999

That the T/W festival this year will only be in Werchter, gives not only me a bad feeling. It seems the boys from Blur also made a pit-stop on the holy fields of Torhout, which made them arrive at the mainstage for more than half an hour too late. Very self-confident (cup of coffee in their hand) they shuffled on stage. After a well-meant "Sorry we're late but Noël kept us as a hostage" they started with "Tender". This bastard-son of "Death is not the End" was setting the tune for the rest of the fine show. Until the extra songs we would only be confronted with the more recent
work. Because of course the boys are grown up now, you know. For this occasion Damon and Co dressed up their stage with three enormous eyeballs which colours were changing in accordance with the mood of the song they played.
Songs from their last album "13" like "Bugman, Coffee & TV, Swamp song, BLUREMI, Battle, Trimm Trabb and No distance left to run" were played very concentrated and it was a very balanced setlist.
How incorruptible and fine the intentions from the new songs from the boys from Blur are, the crowd would only explode during the impressing extra songs. Damon announced them daring with "we're gonna play some old songs and take you up to...." and the effect did not fail to appear. "Beetlebum, Popscene, This is a low, Girls and Boys and Song 2", were responsible for the first time this year that everyone was going out of their mind until far behind the PA-tower.
P.S. Chantal Pattyn, M.C. that night, thought it was necessary to use the old joke about pubic hair and the first 10 rows of Blur fans. And oh boy, we laughed a lot.

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