Tuesday, December 15, 2009

TOUR REVIEW: 1992 USA Tour

Perhaps no tour in Blur's history is as legendary or pivotal as their grueling 1992 slog across America. Traversing the entire country over three months, playing 44 shows, and spending nearly all of the offstage time getting blind drunk cooped up together on a tour bus rolling endless miles up, the band literally beat the hell out of each other and everything around them. It nearly broke the band up and depressed them so much that it led to the nadir of their then-young career at the (in)famous NME Gimme Shelter gig in July of 1992 (but that's a topic for another post).

Touring with the Senseless Things with no new album to promote, the penniless Blur were basically forced into this tour to sell t-shirts and merchandise to pay off debts their first manager, Michael Collins, had racked up with his colossal mismanagement and financial shenanigans. The tour itinerary is below (available recordings are in bold) and it should be noted even the tour dates were lost in legend until some months ago when I was able to uncover many of them through dogged research (the picture was later completed with some assistance from a friend in high places who shall remain nameless!):

April 1992

14th - WBCN Free Show, Axis, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
15th - WFNX Free Show, Venus de Milo, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
17th - Opera House, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
18th - Max’s, Ithaca, New York, USA
21st - Toad’s Place, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
22nd - Club Babyhead, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
23rd - Theatre for the Living Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
24th - City Gardens, Trenton, New Jersey, USA
25th - Marquee, New York City, New York, USA
26th - Max’s on Broadway, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
28th - 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, USA
30th - Empire, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

May 1992

1st - St. Andrew’s Hall, Detroit, Michigan, USA
2nd - Vic Theatre, Chicago, Illinois, USA
4th - First Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
8th - 86th Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

9th - RCKNDY, Seattle, Washington, USA
11th - Cattle Club, Sacramento, California, USA
12th - The Edge, Palo Alto, California, USA
13th - KITS Cruise, San Francisco, California, USA
14th - Anaconda Theatre, Santa Barbara, California, USA
15th - Price Center Plaza, UC San Diego, San Diego, California, USA
16th - The Palace, Los Angeles, California, USA
17th - After the Gold Rush, Tempe, Arizona, USA
20th - Trees, Dallas, Texas, USA
21st - Back Room, Austin, Texas, USA
22nd - The Vatican, Houston, Texas, USA
23rd - Tipitinas, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
26th - Centre Stage, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
27th - Ritz Theatre, Tampa Bay, Florida, USA
28th - Summers, Ft. Lauterdale, Florida, USA
29th - The Edge, Orlando, Florida, USA
31st - Cat’s Cradle, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA


June 1992

1st - Kahootz, Richmond, Virginia, USA
2nd - Zodiac Club, Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA
3rd - Graffiti, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

As you can see, only two gigs, surprisingly, are available from this tour. Both of them reveal a band that is drunk to the point of barely being able to speak, yet they still manage to deliver a show that combines erratic playing with moments of brilliance, mixed up with humor, menace, aggression, and everything in between. The typical set list (gleaned only from the two available tapes) was:

Bang
Slow Down
Won't Do It
Come Together
Colin Zeal
Fool
Oily Water
Never Clever
There's No Other Way
Pressure On Julian
She's So High

Forced to re-promote Leisure a year after its release and mixing in new material from the aborted second album (rejected by their record company), the set is an odd mix of old and new. It makes for interesting listening! (I have shared one of the gigs on here...check it out!)

For such an influential moment in the band's history, it is shocking to me that only two recordings are available. There must be more that exist and if they do I hope they surface for us to enjoy someday and to fill in the pieces of the puzzle for this tour. Of course, if you have any, contact me privately!

10 comments:

  1. The May 2 gig was my first time seeing the band live, having bought 'Leisure' a couple of months prior. Of course, there was no way for then-teenage me to know any of the issues surrounding this tour, but I remember it being an energetic show (although I remember it being longer than the set list suggests, but this might be my mind playing tricks). Some other things stick out in my mind about the show, as well...

    - I didn't know any of the songs that weren't on 'Leisure' at the time, but I do know they played 'Oily Water' because I remember the megaphone.
    - Damon climbed up the PA stack on the right side of the stage while Alex stood next to it, playing and nodding coolly.
    - Nobody knew anything about Senseless Things, but they also put on a great set. A cassette single of theirs was being given away in the lobby as the crowd left.
    - I bought a Popscene t-shirt and was promptly robbed of it (and my wallet) while walking to my car after the show.

    At least I didn't get mugged at any of the subsequent shows I attended...

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    1. That is a great story, apart from getting mugged, which sucks! Thanks for sharing, man!

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  2. am considering opening my blog to dofollow just to help people out but I don’t want to have to mess with all the junk that gets added.

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  3. Thanks! I was racking my brain trying to remember when exactly that LA show was, dunno why I had it in my head that it was late '91... Like Mike, I was unfamiliar at the time with the non-Leisure songs, and I can't provide many details (especially since I was on, ahem, substances), but I know it was a great show. They didn't *seem* unhappy. I do remember Damon sheepishly apologizing for getting "carried away" with the aaahing and ooooing part of Slow Down, during which it seemed like everyone in the place had stopped dancing or anything and was just staring slack-jawed. (Then again, that perception may have something to do with the aforementioned substances and my then 16-year-old girl self being mere feet away from Damon Albarn.) I wish I had pictures or something (no cameras allowed!), but I do still have my shirt! =P

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    1. Great memories, thanks for sharing! It would have been so wonderful to have seen them in the early days when they were still unknown, especially here in the US. What does the shirt look like?

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  4. The comments suggest that the objectives of the tour were met (sell t-shirts to pay off debts). The t-shirts that saved Blur's career!

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  6. I was at the Orlando show, and it was wild. Held in a two-story warehouse resembling a smaller, rectangular version of the Lenny Kravitz "Are You Gonna Go My Way" set, the band was drunk indeed with, as stated, moments of brilliance. By the end of the show Albarn was literally swinging from the rafters. It was an insane night I shall never forget.

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  7. am I right in presuming that the four tracks on the Blur-ti-go US promo cd are also from this tour? recorded in Chicago 1992 the artwork says.

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    Replies
    1. if so, Popscene was also on the typical setlist probably...

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