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Live Review: Blur, Jamie T

6 August 2015 | 4:17 pm | Cicely Binford

"Blur put on an outstanding show."

Britpop legends Blur were back in Perth for the first time since the '90s, that auspicious decade which saw the birth of their seminal album, Parklife. This time around, Blur magic-whipped their devoted denizens into shape with a smattering of tracks from Parklife and other albums, alongside new material from their latest release, The Magic Whip.

Blur was supported by Jamie T and his band, which seems like a good idea on paper, as he’s recently had something of a comeback himself and he’s got that lad from London vibe. Although his set could best be described as English honky-tonk punk for five-year-olds, he did his job by kicking his last few songs into high gear with Sticks ‘N’ Stones and Zombie, adequately warming the room ahead of the arrival of the main attraction. After returning from the queues at the bar in between acts, the tinny sounds of an ice cream van song infiltrated the room, and the crowd got ready for the big treat.

Albarn, Coxon, Rowntree and James have showed few signs of aging during the intervening years, though perhaps some of their fans haven’t followed suit. The temptation to remain seated at the Perth Arena appeared to have been too great for a good portion of the audience, while by contrast, the standing general admission crowd were so moved that one person could be seen raising their crutches in the air. If ever there was a testament to the healing power of music, or at the very least the power of music to make you forget your pain, then this might have been it. Grown men were sitting on each others’ shoulders to get a better view, and the amount of man-hugs and group hugs turned the place into a downright love-in.

And it wasn’t unwarranted; Blur put on an outstanding show. Their new material (Go Out, Lonesome Street, Ong Ong, to name a few) fit in perfectly with classics like Badhead, Song 2 and To The End, even outdoing some of it in terms of creativity and craft. You might not want to use the word “refined” when describing Blur’s sound, but in relative terms, their new songs have seen the band hone their talents, proving that their reunion has by all accounts been fruitful and fun.

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They looked like they were having a blast, and Damon Albarn’s working holiday in Australia definitely agreed with him - he repeatedly doused the audience with water from his bottle, eventually diving in amongst the crowd, danced around the stage with an umbrella like a weedy Gene Kelly, and got a group of guys up on stage for a round of Happy Birthday and Parklife.

The band brought along a few extra musicians in the form of a horn section and a quartet of backup singers. Sadly, the singers couldn’t be heard much in the venue though they had some excellent moves worked out. The horn section managed to cut through the band’s boom when required, but more than anything, the expanded set-up added to the celebration.

After all, the more, the merrier, and if you’re still playing to arenas and stadiums after a hiatus of a decade or two, why not fill up the place with as much joyful noisemakers as possible? Take it from Albarn himself: “There’s no other way. All that you can do is watch them play.”

Originally published in X-Press Magazine