8 August 2003, IX Festival Internacional de Benicassim

Blur took the stage on the first day of the festival, right after Placebo. They played a 70-minute set to a crowd of 30,000 people.

The set opened with 'Ambulance', as it has for most recent Blur shows. As usual, the second part of the song was amazing, thanks largely to Dave's accelerated drumming. Before singing 'Beetlebum', Damon observed, "There's a great moon up there." Although his singing wasn't the best he's ever done, the latter part of the song took off thanks to Simon's guitar solo and all of the beautiful white noise. Then Damon declared, "Let's get this place moving." and a very good version of 'Girls & Boys' followed, one chorus being sung through the voice-distorter he's been using on stage this year. The sounds of underwater cymbals announced 'Gene by Gene'. I liked the way Damon sang "I delete my sel-l-l-l-l-f" in a modulated voice. The end of the song in particular was hauntingly melodic thanks to a beautiful keyboard line. "An old song now" was how Damon introduced 'For Tomorrow', enhanced by very beautiful backing vocals. Then Damon told the crowd a mate of his had just taught him the greatest swearword in Spanish but he had forgotten it, adding "it's like 'fuck' you know, but in Spanish," hoping that maybe someone would refresh his memory. 'Good Song' came next. Again, the backing vocals gave the song a beautiful sense of depth. Before 'Tender', Damon called for a sing-along. "Everyone sing with us so it takes off", he requested, and then he invited us to look at the moon again. "So beautiful". Alex played the double-bass. Damon's singing was very energetic, the tempo well-marked and the backing vocals superb. Damon didn't sing the entire first chorus, but the crowd could be heard singing softly. The song was enhanced by an acappella reprise. Very nice. Then Damon announced a song - 'Caravan' - that they "recorded last summer in Morroco, on a night very like this. And every night was like this," which I guess means warm and starlit. Considering the heat and laid-back atmosphere at Benicassim, this lazy song sounded very appropriate. Then Damon did an amazing thing. He asked the audience to put their hands shoulder-high, started shaking his hands and then produced a 17-second, nonstop, deep, low, rumbling, resonant tone, one that sounded like the drone produced by a didjeridoo -- you know, the wind instrument played by the Aboriginees in Australia. That was the lowest-pitched tone I've ever heard from someone's mouth. It was an absolutely magical moment. Then he inhaled and did it again for about 8 seconds in an even lower voice which faded out into the "Oh yeah" of 'Out Of Time'. Brilliant! Again, the sunny atmosphere of 'Out of Time' was well-suited to the Spanish festival. A performance of 'Crazy Beat' ignited the crowd. And then, as if the atmosphere wasn't frantic enough, 'Song 2' was played as soon as 'Crazy Beat' ended. Everyone sang along, collectively going bananas. Really great! 'Trimm Trabb' followed. Damon rapped its beginning Massive Attack-style. His witty showmanship was in evidence as he stomped a foot, threw an arm into the air, arched his back like a flamenco dancer and produced a long, powerful, flamenco-type scream that was followed with a piercing echo. The second part of the song had lots of white noise, which I personally liked quite a bit. Then, with cigarette in hand, Damon put all his heart into 'Battery In Your Leg'. His "Me" at the end lasted forever. What a moving song that is live! 'The Universal' was beautiful. 'To The End' was introduced as "a very romantic song". It segued into 'On The Way To The Club', my favorite 'Think Tank' song live. I particularly love the way it slows down, then speeds up and finally segues into 'File'. 'File' was done only once but it was mental. The sweaty crowd was taken completely hostage by a great set with some memorable moments. Well done!


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