Friday, October 30, 2009

NEW: Existence of some new unearthed recordings

Before you get all excited, I have not unearthed these tapes...rather, I've unearthed that they do indeed exist. However, the listing online these were from is very old and the contact info does not work, so the search continues. But this list is enough to make me drool like Pavlov's dog...

9/3/93 Barrowlands, Glasgow
12/4/93 Theatre of the Living Arts, Philadelphia
11/29/94 U-Port Hall, Tokyo
6/10/95 Sonoria Festival, Milan
10/3/95 Metro, Chicago
11/4/95 Festival Hall, Osaka
2/6/96 Cotton Club, Atlanta
2/10/96 Roseland Ballroom, New York City
2/12/96 Capital Ballroom, Washington, DC
3/18/96 Capitol, Hanover, Germany
3/15/97 Riviera, Chicago
5/26/97 Budokan, Tokyo
6/11/97 Capital Ballroom, Washington, DC
6/24/97 First Avenue, Minneapolis
7/1/97 KROQ Dysfunctional Family Picnic, New York City
8/8/97 Sudoeste Festival, Odemira, Portugal
9/16/97 Varsity Arena, Toronto
9/23/97 Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte
9/26/97 Garage, Cincinnati
9/27/97 96-X Fest, Mud Island Amphitheatre, Memphis (this was erroneously placed on the same date in 1996 in Black Book)
10/4/97 County Bowl, Santa Barbara
12/6/99 Waterfront, Belfast
12/9/99 NEC, Birmingham

Of course, if you have these or know someone who does, please contact me privately (your correspondence will remain confidential).

I will post the COMPLETE list (so far) of known recordings floating around out there. I then plan to do an individual spotlight posting on each of these (as well as all of the other ones I'm hunting down) stay tuned!

A personal memory: Blur at the Avalon, Boston July 18, 2003

This post is a little self-indulgent, but since this is a blog about the live Blur concert experience, I thought I'd share my own (and sadly only) time that I saw Blur Boston at the Avalon on July 18, 2003.

First, some background. When I heard Blur were going to be playing in Boston, I of course had to go see them. I ordered two tickets, one for me and one for my brother. Horrifyingly, about a week before the show, I still hadn't gotten the tickets in the mail. I called Ticketmaster and they said they had a glitch in their system and no one's tickets had gone out, but that they would soon. I got them the DAY before the about cutting it close.

The day of the show, my brother and I drove into Boston in the afternoon. We grabbed some dinner, walked around the city a bit, and then made our way over to the (now defunct) Avalon on Landsdowne St and got into the club early. Since it was general admission (and the club probably fit around 500 people), we made our way right up to the front and ended up in the second/third row. The opening band, the Moving Units, were pretty good even though every song of theirs sounded the same after the first few bars. However, when Blur came onstage, the crowd went nuts. I remember Damon was wearing a gray sportcoat over a striped polo shirt and they all looked so cool. They ripped into Ambulance and the set list was as follows:

Girls & Boys
Gene By Gene
For Tomorrow
Sweet Song
Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club
Out Of Time
Crazy Beat
Brothers And Sisters
To The End
Song 2
Trimm Trabb
Battery in Your Leg
The Universal
On The Way To The Club
We've Got A File On you
This Is A Low

Some things I remember: thinking (along with the people around me) "Oh my God, is Graham back?" when I saw Mike Smith (keyboard/saxophone player) come out (since he had short hair and Graham-style the low lighting at a short distance, he was a dead-ringer for Graham); Damon polling the crowd on whether they wanted them to play Good Song or Sweet Song (Sweet Song won); before Out of Time Damon explaining they've been banned from WBCN (Boston radio station) for pulling out of the WBCN River Rave festival earlier in May (a show I had intended to go to to see Blur); the band had a technical glitch before Battery in Your Leg, with Alex playing the basslines to Music is My Radar, She's So High, and On the Way to the Club before they sorted it out; everyone being shocked they played The Universal (it was only the second time they'd played it that tour); Damon jumping onto us a few times during the show (my brother and I got to high-five him); standing next to a fellow from the UK and talking to him after the show about how he had worked on the lighting crew for some of their UK tours in 1994-97; overall, how great a concert it was. Also, on the way out the door, someone was handing out invites/tickets to the afterparty at the Paradise (another Boston club) to random people, my brother and I being two lucky recipients. We debated whether to go or not, but both of us had classes the next day (I was a PhD student at the time and he was an undergraduate) and decided to just head home...a decision I'm sure he regrets now as much as I do!

A few weeks later I was thrilled when someone contacted me with the recording of the show, which they sent to me. Even cooler was that you can hear me on the bootleg...I shouted out "yeah!" really loud in the silence when Damon announced Beetlebum, and you can hear me whoop it up a few times throughout (I must have been standing close to the taper). All in all, a great concert made even better by the fact that I was there!

RECORDING SPOTLIGHT: Mayan Theatre, Los Angeles April 1, 1999

In keeping with yesterday's post about the Roseland Ballroom show in 1999, today's will focus on the only other American concert Blur played in 1999, in Los Angeles at the Mayan Theatre (pictured left). The set list was the same, so I won't post it again. And I won't belabor the point other than to say I know for a fact a recording of this is out there (I know a fellow who used to have it, but he doesn't anymore), and hopefully someday it will surface to complete the mini-tour of the USA/Canada in 1999.

And as always, if you have a copy or know someone who does, please contact me privately (and your correspondence will remain confidential).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SHOW: Reading Festival, England August 28, 1993

Here is Blur's legendary gig at the Reading Festival in 1993. Cited by the band and management as the turning point in their career when they knew they'd make it and when they'd finally connected with their fans. A great show to listen to (see the review of it in Black Book). Enjoy!

RECORDING SPOTLIGHT: Roseland Ballroom, New York City March 30, 1999

In 1999, Blur surprisingly only played three shows in North America: one in New York City, one in Los Angeles, and one in Toronto. I personally recorded the Toronto gig and have spoken to people who have the other two shows, as well as seen them listed, but thus far they have remained elusive. Here is the setlist for the Toronto show, which would be the same for this one in New York City:

Coffee & TV
Swamp Song
Mellow Song
Trimm Trabb
No Distance Left To Run
There's No Other Way
Song 2

As you can see, it's a typical set list for this point in 1999. What makes this show (and the Los Angeles show two days later, but that's a topic for another post) so desirable is that that was it for Blur in the USA in 1999. Surprisingly, they never came back, and this was the only year (other than 1990 when they were too new, and 2009 when they stuck to the UK, Ireland, and France) they never did a proper tour of the USA. Thus, to have all three of the USA/Canada shows would be very nice in order to fill in this little piece of the concert history for 1999.

So, the hunt continues for this show. However, if you taped it or know someone who did, please contact me privately (your correspondence will, of course, remain confidential).

On a personal note, since I live close to Boston, I'm only about a 4-5 hour drive from New York City. I was a sophomore at university when this show took place and had tickets reserved to buy, with the intention of taking the bus to New York, seeing the show, and then sleeping on the bus overnight back to school. Except that a couple of weeks before the show, a VERY important mid-term exam was scheduled in my chemistry class. Since I was a chemistry major, I had to study and do well in it, thus no Blur show! And it would be four more years before I finally saw them (but again, that's for a future post)...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Concerts in some out-of-the-ordinary places

Blur has played hundreds of concerts around in the world throughout their 20 year history. But one thing that is unique is that they're one of the few bands who venture off the beaten path and play in countries other than the usual UK/USA/Europe/Japan axis. This wanderlust reached its height during Blur's 1997-1999 peak when they went to some truly far-flung locales. Below is a list of concerts they've played off the beaten path (available recordings are highlighted in bold font and italics).

-Estonia 1993 (unknown venue and date)
-6/30/96 Ruisrock Festival, Turku, Finland
-9/8/96 Laugardalshollin, Reykjavik, Iceland
-8/27/97 Sports Hall, Torshavn, Faroe Islands
-8/29/97 Gothaab Hall, Nuuk, Greenland
-8/31/97 Laugardalshollin, Reykjavik, Iceland
-10/21/97 Munwha Gym, Seoul, Korea
-10/24/97 North Shore Events Centre, Auckland, New Zealand
-10/26/97 Festival Hall, Brisbane, Australia
-10/28/97 Metro, Sydney, Australia
-10/29/97 Metro, Sydney, Australia
-10/30/97 Horden Pavillion, Sydney, Australia
-11/1/97 Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
-11/2/97 Metro, Melbourne, Australia
-11/4/97 Thebarton, Adelaide, Australia
-11/6/97 Metropolis, Perth, Australia
-11/8/97 MBK Hall, Bangkok, Thailand
-11/11/97 Harbour Pavillion, Singapore, Singapore
-6/19/99 Provinssirock Festival, Seinajoki, Finland
-7/13/99 Rockwave Festival, Athens, Greece
-11/18/99 Metropolitan Theatre, Mexico City, Mexico
-11/21/99 Credit Card Hall, Sao Paulo, Brazil
-11/23/99 Metropolitan, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
-11/26/99 Luna Park, Buenos Aires, Argentina
-11/27/99 Luna Park, Buenos Aires, Argentina
-4/22/03 Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico
-9/24/03 DK Gorbunova, Moscow, Russia
-9/25/03 DK Gorbunova, Moscow, Russia

While I realize Australia is not an unusual location, the fact of the matter is not too many bands from the USA or UK usually venture down there (as an example, Led Zeppelin and The Who only toured Australia once, as did The Rolling Stones in their heyday). Also, while Finland, Greece, and Iceland are in Europe, most bands don't play there very often, if at all.

One thing to notice is that Blur has played is some really exotic and unusual places...South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, South America, Mexico, Russia, and especially surprising, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. It's a testament to their popularity that they were able to play in all of these places and draw large crowds (remember, in smaller countries, crowds of 5,000 can be akin to playing in front of 20,000 in England or America!).

While it can be tougher to find recordings, photographs, or articles reviewing concerts from these places, the quest continues to try and get a better idea of Blur's concerts in these interesting locations!

SHOW: Glastonbury Festival, England June 28, 1992

Here is Blur's show from the Glastonbury Festival in England on June 28, 1992. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blur in France: An Aural Love Affair

The photo above is from Blur's show in Lyon, France, on July 5, 2009. But the overall point of this post is that, from listening to loads of shows over the years, one thing is very obvious, and that is the fact that Blur playing live in France is always special.

There are many bands that seem to rise to the occasion even more than usual in certain locales to deliver shows that are better than their best. Some of the most unique and arguably the best concerts of Led Zeppelin's career came on their 1971 and 1972 tours of Japan, as well as at the LA Forum in Los Angeles. The Who always seemed to play even better when in New York City or London (although Live at Leeds is simply stunning). There are numerous other examples of bands who have that special place(s) where they seem to deliver every time. And in my opinion, after listening to and researching live Blur for over a dozen years, for them, it's in France.

There seems to be something about the response from the fans, who always sound like the perfect crowd...not too boisterous, but not cold. They're energetic, loud, appreciative, funny, and seem to have a rapport and connection with the band you can *feel*, even aurally. And it gets reflected in the mood of the band (and the performance of the songs). Even with the language barrier, these shows prove that the right crowd and the right band can meet to make transcendent music if all of the conditions are met. Below is a cataloging of all of the known Blur recordings in France with some notes for each (not excerpted from Black Book, although the sentiments will be the same!)

-Aeronef, Lille, France October 18, 1991
Blur played three nights at the Fnac/Les Inrockuptibles Festival in France...this is the second night. This show has many previews from Modern Life is Rubbish, two years in advance of its release. This concert also included the earliest known version of Popscene played live. The band are in a very humorous mood and joke constantly back and forth with the crowd.

-La Cigale, Paris, France October 19, 1991
The final night of the Fnac Festival, this is a more serious and mature show, with the band delivering a tight set that has the crowd going nuts. Includes a manic Day Upon Day to close the whole thing out.

-L’Ubu, Rennes, France February 15, 1992
The earliest 1992 show available, this contains the earliest live versions of Colin Zeal and Pressure on Julian. I'm All Over and Sing are also included and are rarities. A similar atmosphere to the Paris show from 1991.

-Rennes Festival, France April 15, 1994
This is the earliest 1994 show available and the only one to pre-date the release of Parklife. Included are previews of Parklife, Girls and Boys, Lot 105, Jubilee, and a rare (and first) version of London Loves. The relationship between Blur and France is really taking hold at this point.

-Les Montjoye, Besancon, France October 20, 1994
This show (and the following one) took place during Blur's nearly two-week tour of France in October 1994. This is one of the lower key shows in France, although it is played very well.

-Art Rock Festival, St. Brieuc, France October 28, 1994
A show from the end of the French tour of 1994, this one, along with the Besancon show, is one of the few uneven shows. This one is much better at the the end of the show, the energy level begins to wane, although overall it's still very solid.

-La Bataclan, Paris, France October 26, 1995
A solid, solid show from late 1995, this one is better than the two recordings from 1994. Nothing spectacular here in terms of set list, although the communion between the band and crowd is very special, especially by the time they reach The Universal at the end (complete with Alex playing bass in his underwear!)

-L’Escall, Nantes, France March 4, 1996
Perhaps the only outright stinker from Blur in France, this show alternates between brilliance and sloppiness, and has many bizarre moments, including some truly hilarious stage banter, such as:

Damon: "Alex thinks smoking brings him closer to God."
Alex: "Damon thinks he is God!"

-Olympia, Paris, France March 5, 1996
A fabulous show and one of my favorite Blur concerts. Damon has the crowd eating out of his hand by the third song and they embark on a long and amazing set, complete with the first For Tomorrow since the fall of 1995 and one of the best versions of Entertain Me. This is among the best of 1996, as well one of my personal favorite Blur concerts.

-La Mutualite, Paris, France September 15, 1999
A wonderful show in front of a very receptive and vocal crowd. The atmosphere between band and audience is perfect, and this show includes a rare version of Fried, as well as one of the best versions of Battle you'll ever hear. A magical night.

-La Bataclan, Paris, France May 19, 2003
Hands down one of the best shows from 2003, this one has an atmosphere similar to the Paris show above. The crowd pushes the band to greater heights, which includes one of the best versions of Beetlebum, EVER (yes, even though Graham was not present). One of the prime examples of how French crowds (and Paris, in particular) bring out the best in Blur.

-Olympia, Paris, France October 16, 2003
A "professional" show from Blur, this one has some rarities, such as Blue Jeans as the third song and Beetlebum played as the first encore! Blur is a bit more "academic" in their approach, but that doesn't make it any less interesting or exciting to listen to. Again, one of the best of 2003, and from Paris (no coincidence).

-Les Nuits de Fourviere Festival, Lyon, France July 5, 2009
The final Blur concert in France (to date), this one was described in the press as more "subdued" than the English shows the month before. But this one is better than them all (apart from Wolverhampton and Glastonbury). The crowd clapping during She's So High is literally breathtaking...if you want a prime example of how an audience can CONTRIBUTE to the concert experience, it's in this show. It sounds like a reunion between old friends and is one of the most magical, if not THE most magical, recordings I've ever listened to in this regard.

So there you have it. Blur in France...never a bad show, almost always a fantastic show, and one of those places where they always get on fantastically with the crowd, who add to the whole experience. Hopefully more French recordings will surface so we can enjoy this relationship even more!

RECORDING SPOTLIGHT: Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto May 21, 1995

The first known recording of an uncirculating blur show I'm going to post on is one of my "Holy Grails", Blur's show at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto, Canada (picture at left) on May 21, 1995. Also on the bill were Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Our Lady Peace. This was part of the annual Edgefest festival for 1995. The date is often mistakenly listed as May 12 (an error on blur's official gigography, as well as in my book, I'm afraid!) but the correct date is indeed May 21, 1995.

This is an unusual show for a few reasons. It's the only North American show from early 1995 (blur wouldn't return to begin their US/Canadian tour until September 1995), and it has all the hallmarks of a warm-up show, especially since they previewed songs from the upcoming Great Escape album, including Country House, Globe Alone, and Stereotypes. In addition, it has a fascinating and unique set list:

Supa Shoppa
Come Together
Tracy Jacks
End Of A Century
Country House
Magic America
Trouble In The Message Centre
Globe Alone
To The End
Girls & Boys
Bank Holiday
This Is A Low

I've highlighted the real oddities in the set. Come Together is a surprise, as is the last time Trouble in the Message Centre must have ever been played live. Starting the show with Supa Shoppa is also pretty weird. All in all, this show has all the attributes of a warm-up show during a transitionary period (bridging the Parklife and Great Escape eras onstage). These "in-between" shows are always the most interesting for me to listen to (some of my favorite concerts are from 1996, as well as mid-1992 to late 1993).

I have come across a listing on the internet of a fellow who recorded this show, although the posting has not been updated since 1996! I've taken down his name (he will remain anonymous) and would like to contact him. I'm hoping someday this recording will become available so we can listen to it, enjoy it, and study it.

If you have a copy or know someone who does, would you please be so kind as to contact me at Your correspondence will of course remain confidential.

EDIT: There may be a bit of a breakthrough here, as I think I've gotten in touch with a taper...stay tuned...

Shameless plug for my book!

For the first "real" post of this blog, I of course am going to plug my book, Black Book. This book took me 6 years (from inception to completion) and was a true labor of love. It chronicles the live history of the band through the narrative of their live concerts, captured on recordings of various quality (all of which are reviewed). Also included are a detailed list of every blur song (including whether and when they were played live) as well as the most detailed tour dates list available, including many new and previously unknown shows culled from long hours of research I undertook. The total is 440 pages of information packed in between the two covers!

The book is intended to be both a detailed history of blur's live history, as well as a guide to those who want information on their live recordings. There is also a nice press release write-up on Veikko's widely read Blur website.

For more information, and to get a copy (only $20.00!!!), check it out on

Monday, October 26, 2009

Welcome to BLAAP

Hello and welcome to the Blur Live Audio Archive Project (BLAAP for short). This site is intended as the online supplement to my book chronicling blur's live history, Black Book (available at

You can expect to find a variety of things here, including (but not limited to):

-Reviews and discussions of selected tours/touring years from blur's history

-Discussion and analysis of songs and their live performances

-Discussion and research into new and uncirculated blur live recordings, including known recordings

-A whole bunch of info related to live blur

Basically I want to use this site as a "real-time" supplement to my book, as well as a tool to help dig up new recordings for this project, in order to make the live history of blur as complete as possible.

So keep checking often and please participate by commenting. And as always, if you have a recording to contribute, feel free to get in touch with me via email (it will be kept confidential).