Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Blur: October 2, 1995

It's still somewhat odd to me to think that while Blur reigned supreme in British hearts and charts, they were playing relatively small clubs in America. It makes sense, though, since their music of this period was almost insularly British. That's not to say Americans couldn't relate to it, but it took some open-mindedness and at least a slight understanding of Brit culture for Americans to find a point of entry.

This show took place just a few weeks after the release of The Great Escape, the follow-up to what is generally considered to be the band's masterpiece, Parklife. Expectations were high, and although it was a solid album, ultimately it would be considered a disappointment by most. At any rate its exploration of the dark side of middle-class life was a mostly somber listen and a harbinger of the '90s hangover to come. It also signaled time for a musical change, and Blur's next album would be a decidedly different affair that incorporated a grittier and more indie-influenced sound. Of course, none of this was on the minds of the crowd that night since we'd only had a couple of weeks to mull over the new album. In essence, the band and audience were still riding high on Parklife. A lot of the material was culled from that album, including an attempt at the title track (performed by actor Phil Daniels on the album) that resulted in Damon Albarn flubbing a few lines -- but he laughed it off. Several other songs from the set list were culled from The Great Escape and Modern Life Is Rubbish.

The Swedish outfit Whale opened, still coasting on their one and only semi-hit "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe," which is as atrocious as it sounds. (Time has not been kind to their debut album, We Care -- although I liked it at the time.) The show was all ages, and I'm surprised to see the door time listed as 8 p.m. on the ticket, because I recall it was still daylight out when we got there. Blur's American audience made up for in enthusiasm what it might have lacked in numbers. I remember the crowd as being very lively and it was a great night, even if it had to end before curfew.

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