The behemoth event known as Coachella consistently delivers a line-up that makes all us UK-based festivalers turn from smug Glastonbury relishing revellers into green-eyed monsters, praying for cheap trans-Atlantic flights. This year of course is no different, as the Coachella Music and Arts Festival has drawn in both the best home-grown talent, and the reticent prime cuts of British exports.
You only have to look at the headliners on the Fridays. Blur and The Stone Roses are two bands with a fanatical following from years ago and who still have already inspired a ticket buying frenzy that has seen the 3-day event sell out in record time. The re-formed Stone Roses promise to bring their archetypal brand of faux mope rock to American shores, while Blur will assault the assembled masses with waves of Britpop and shouting, plus probably some kind of Damon Albarn pomp. But that’s allowed, he’s like royalty, yeah? Now that’s just two of the bands and in all honesty, that’s enough to sell out the event for me. But if you have been lucky enough to grab one of the proverbial golden tickets to the sold-out event, then here’s a little more of what you have to enjoy at this orgy of talented fellows.
The Gaslight Anthem will be making an appearance midway down the bill, and will be bringing a bit of ‘Hometown Glory’ (see what I did there) to Coachella. Mercury Prize winners and golden trio of the recent British indie scene the xx will also be performing a set in support of their (now not so) new record ‘Coexist’. Alongside Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith will be Franz Ferdinand performing slightly lower down on the bill than you’d expect of a band with their formidable reputation. On the same day, Saturday, dance groove titan Moby will be performing, as well as Sigur Ros, Hot Chip and New Order. I did tell you it was an orgy of talent, eh?
To finish the weekend off then, what better way to do so then a dosing of nostalgia served with a hearty portion of topless men, with long or shaven, hair jumping about on stage. I of course refer to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who will be closing the event.
Coachella 2013 is already sold out, but we’ll be keeping an eye on things in Indio 12-14 April and 19-21 April.
By Mary Chang on Tuesday, 14th August 2012 at 4:00 pm
Though Blur have hinted this year’s appearances may be their last, they’ve wasted no time in having some of the most memorable live performances that we will remember of 2012. Case in point: their show Sunday night at Hyde Park taking place alongside the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony at Olympic Park, which included the below video of ‘Girls and Boys’, when the curtains opened, revealing a very excited quartet, raring to go. While some people described the sound as not being loud enough, this video does a good job of capturing both the sound and the energy. Watch it below.
By Mary Chang on Friday, 3rd August 2012 at 4:00 pm
Earlier this week, Steve Lamacq played host to 2 very special Blur live sets at Maida Vale. One was filmed for and broadcast on 6music on Wednesday night; the other was broadcast live on a special Radio 2 broadcast Tuesday night. (You have until next Tuesday to Listen Again to it here.)
But for today’s gig video, we’ve got the live video of their The set of songs chosen included the first-ever live performance of ‘Caramel’ and the second-only airing of ‘Young and Lovely’. Watch the 6music performance below. (Note to anyone outside the UK: I realise this is UK only; I had hoped in waiting 2 days, someone would have figured out a way to rip it to YouTube so everyone could watch it. If and when something like that becomes available, it will be posted here. Not all is lost however; if you want to listen to the audio, it is available from 6music Listen Again here until next Wednesday.)
I guess they want to strike when the iron’s hot. Blur have released this video recorded in the highly intimate space of Damon Albarn’s West London recording studio of them performing one of the two new tracks that premiered last week, ‘Under the Westway’. (For a discussion of this and ‘The Puritan’, read Braden’s piece on the double-A single here.)
As reported a couple weeks ago on the Guardian, these 86 tracks were chosen to be the best of British music through the years and will be the soundtrack to official opening ceremony on 27 July. As should be expected, confirmed opening ceremony performers Duran Duran (pictured at top) appear on the list with ‘The Reflex’, and Muse, suppliers of the official London 2012 song, appear twice with ‘Map of the Problematique’ and ‘Uprising’. There are also appearances from the themes of both Coronation Street and Eastenders: little North vs. South action, eh? The Blur (‘Song 2′) vs. Oasis (‘Wonderwall’) argument has a second coming.
But there seem to be some glaring omissions (how are there no Beatles, Queen or Smiths songs?), and do we really need to remind the world of Frankie Goes to Hollywood‘s ‘Relax’? I guess the Sex Pistols‘ previous two fingers to the monarchy have been long since forgotten (they appear twice, with ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Pretty Vacant’), and I can’t be the only one who thinks OMD‘s ‘Enola Gay’ is a strange choice. My favourite addition? A tie between Soul II Soul‘s ‘Back to Life’ and Kaiser Chiefs‘ ‘I Predict a Riot’. Least favourites? Tinie Tempah‘s ‘Pass Out’ and Roll Deep‘s ‘Shake a Leg’. (Really?)
Have a look and listen below and then let us know what you think of the 86 song list in the comments. We’ll add the most entertaining ones to the body of this post. (Hints: you must have Spotify to play the tracks, and to activate the scrolling bar, run your mouse or finger on the right hand side of the player to reveal it.)
This month, Blur’s debut album ‘Leisure’ turns 21. Of course, their debut 12” single of ”She’s so High’ is well on its way to 22 (I should know, I own the ruddy thing), but nonetheless, the big birthday of ‘Leisure’ at the end of this month signals a certain coming of age for the winners of that Britpop battle all those years ago.
Of course, much has changed in those 21 years. People listened to the Stone Roses and we had a Tory government. Well, maybe not much has changed in society but for Blur, things have. Alex James has consumed a lot of cheese and Dave Rowntree’s dabbled in politics. Damon and Graham have split, done their own thing, harmoniously reunited, briefly parted ways again and are now back together again as part of Britpop’s best bromance. It’s certainly been a roller coaster relationship.
That second coming together back in February at Graham’s War Child show was where they first premiered the better of of the two new tracks premiered live from a London rooftop on Monday night, ‘Under the Westway’. Coming in at a cross between Procol Harum’s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ and the Beatles‘ ‘Let it Be’, it’s as much a reconciliation between lost brothers in arms as it is a rambling to last call in the bar. It’s Blur at their most honest and that’s with Damon at the helm, baring his soul. It’s 1995’s ‘Best Days’ for the modern era.
I only wish you could say the same about ‘The Puritan’. Whilst it’s a culture conscious pop-song with lyrics that Damon just couldn’t have created with Gorillaz, that’s no excusing everything else. That drone, the appalling drum sound, the torturous la’s (not the band, the actual bit of the song), it’s all a festival for a band that simply lost the plot and tried to re-create the singalongs of ‘The Great Escape’ and ‘Parklife’ without ever coming close in audible enjoyment. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed ‘Think Tank’, but this is not it.
In coming of age, Blur have reminded us of what most people do on their birthdays. They’ve reminded us of the beauty they can create and the lyrical possibilities of twisting madness into social commentary with a London flair (aka, the best). They’ve also reminded us that mixed into those albums there’s the last half of ‘Modern Life is Rubbish’, the middle of ’13’ and right inside the brilliant ‘Parklife’, there’s ‘Trouble in the Message Centre’ and ‘Jubilee’, which are nothing short of painful. If they’re going to do them both at Hyde Park to close out the London 2012 Olympics, I’d bring some tissues to dab your tears and then block your ears with. Then again, they never did anything by half.
The recorded versions of ‘Under the Westway’ and ‘The Puritan’ are available for download purchase now. A limited edition, double A-sided single will be released on Parlophone on the 6th of August.