Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all have a fun and safe celebration tonight and tomorrow, and may 2011 bring us all more happiness, laughter, love, and music, all shared with family and friends!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Hunting Down Blur Recordings



***DISCLAIMER*** LONG ARTICLE ALERT!

Also, I think I'm going to make this the first in a series of articles on the collecting/detective work that goes on behind tracking down rare and uncirculated Blur recordings. What do you think? Would this be interesting to you?

A poster on the Facebook page recently expressed interest in an article talking about what goes in to tracking down rare and uncirculated live recordings of Blur. I agreed with him that this would make a great idea for an article…I felt that it could offer insight into the meat of a project like this, which is, of course, the music. Also, as a collector myself, I always enjoy hearing these “behind-the-scenes” stories and I figure most other people would as well. Right up front, however, I’ll just mention that I am going to leave names and specifics out of this article, since a lot of the collectors/tapers I deal with like to remain behind the curtain, so to speak, and I’ll honor that (you’ll see that honor is quality that important as a collector…patience is another one, and we’ll get to that later!) and thus they’ll remain anonymous.

First, a bit of background: I grew up as a huge music fan and always enjoyed live albums in addition to the studio ones. However, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s, when I was finishing up high school, that I had my first exposure to bootlegs and live recordings. I was browsing the Led Zeppelin bin at my local record store at the time (In Your Ear Music in Plymouth, New Hampshire, sadly defunct) and found a CD called “White Summer” which I had never heard of. On the back it said “Recorded live at the BBC Playhouse Theatre in June 1969.” I promptly bought it and went home to listen to it and was astounded at the quality of the performance (I was also spoiled by the fact that it was a pristine soundboard recording, as most bootlegs sound far inferior!). It blew my mind because the only official Led Zeppelin live document (at the time) was the The Song Remains the Same album, and this was a world apart and had different songs. Some months later I was in another now-defunct record store in Dover called The Lost Chord, and the fellow had a box set of Beatles CDs called Unsurpassed Masters Vols. 1-7. Again, I had never heard of these and bought them. When I got home I realized these were studio outtakes and unreleased tracks, and some of the stuff on them was truly amazing. From here it grew to buying bootleg tapes and CDs from vendors at the local universities (including my own…yes, they used to sell bootlegs at colleges!) until, with my first exposure to the internet in 1997, I began tape trading and later on, CDR trading. As the years went by, technology advanced to the point we’re at today with torrents and online uploading and swapping of digital files…I still engage in the odd CDR trade here or there, but for the most part, snail mail trades are dead.

All of this brief background brings me to the gist of this article…tracking down and acquiring rare and/or uncirculated recordings. Because what ends up happening when you collect any band long enough is that, eventually, you end up getting a hold of everything that is available, but you know there is more out there, so the search begins. In the days before the internet, it was quite a challenge since everything was done by word of mouth or through the mail. Nowadays, it’s much easier (although it’s not *easy*) to search stuff out. Learning about the existence of rare tapes and figuring out who has them can happen many different ways:

1) A person who you’ve traded with already has some rare stuff they decide to let you know about and share it. This happens fairly often, where someone had been holding something back and will eventually let you know they have it and offer to trade it. Quite often, there will be conditions attached, such as not being able to tell anyone where you got it, not being allowed to share it out yourself, and so on. It’s always a good idea to honor these requests, as it’s the right thing to do from an honor standpoint, and also it shows that you’re trustworthy and keeps the tape pipeline open.

2) Someone you trade with knows someone. This happens quite a lot, too. Once you’ve become known as a serious collector of a band, a lot of time a trading partner will know someone (either personally or through their own trading circles) who has rarer stuff. These interactions can either be tricky or relatively smooth depending on how receptive the person your contact knows is to sharing with a stranger at first. I’ve been lucky in that every instance I’ve had this type of dealing, my collecting counterpart has always been very friendly and eager to share.

3) A kind and generous soul contacts you, offering a rare tape. This happens quite a lot, as well, although only since the advent of the internet. One thing I’ve been blessed with while working on my Blur book project (and my own collection) is this type of interaction, many times over. Whether they’ve contacted me via email, my blog, the Facebook or Twitter page, or just randomly, many kind souls have offered me recordings. I always offer something in return, but more often than not, despite my insistence, they decline, saying they don’t want anything in return. These are the best kind of people, willing to share with you simply to help out!

4) The last type of person you’ll deal with is someone who you contact out of the blue. Often times I’ll find these people’s lists while trawling the internet looking for shows. Sometimes it’s someone I used to trade with year ago who won’t remember who I am. It could be someone on DIME or another torrent site who seems to have some rare stuff, so I’ll send them an email, or they could be listed at a database site like Tape Trader or Etree. In any event, this is the hardest type of person to deal with since you have no idea what they’re like beforehand, and you’re contacting them out of the blue. I’ve found over the years that you need to be gracious, humble, and not too eager…I know in the past I’ve scared off quite a few potential trading partners by being too overeager and pushy, at times. The key here is to give them space and approach gently until you get to know them. I would say 95% of the people I’ve dealt with in this fashion have ended up being really cool and easy to deal with. The other 5% either ignore you, stop replying to your emails after agreeing to a trade (which is so aggravating!), or tell you in no uncertain terms to f**k off!

So the type of interactions I typically have in tracking down these Blur recordings are summarized for the most part above. I should add that, thanks to the internet, while the vast majority of these people hail from the UK and USA, I’ve also dealt with people all over the world, from Europe, Russia, Japan, Australia, Canada, South America, and so on.

I mentioned how it pays to be honest in your dealings with trading partners, especially those who are sharing out rarer material. This means don’t stiff anyone on a trade, keep the lines of communication open, and so on. There is one other quality that is ESSENTIAL and one I’ve gotten better at over the years: PATIENCE.

It can be excruciatingly slow sometimes to trade with some collectors. Oftentimes they’re very busy with work and their life and have to fit in your wants when they can. Some people don’t respond to emails for a long time. And some people are just SLOW. I’m currently in the middle of a trade I started in April of 2010 with a fellow…it was a small trade, 3 shows. I sent him the shows he wanted from me in April. I’ve gotten one from him and am *still* waiting on the other 2, which need to be converted from cassette to WAV. And, to top it all off, this fellow goes months in between replying to my emails. It’s frustrating, but I have to keep my cool and stay polite and patient. In the end it will be worth it. There was another fellow who promised to send me a rare tape, with nothing in return, in May 2010. He even asked for my address so he could send it right out. Not only do I not have the tape, I’m still waiting to hear back from him (he hasn’t responded to any emails). Some people have gone so far as to set up trades with me and, after emailing back and forth for over a year, have stopped responding. There are two great fellows I’m trading with right now who are taking a while, but that’s because they’re busy with life/family/work, and I know they’re doing a favor for me by taking the time to convert their tapes and send them to me…you guys know who you are if you’re reading this, and I thank you! In fact, that goes for everyone I’ve traded with since 1997, and everyone who has sent me ANYTHING for my collection and for the Black Book project. Without you it wouldn’t be nearly as detailed, complete, or fun!

I’ll end this article, for now, and leave you with a little (and true) anecdote. About 8 years ago, when I was a graduate student, I found a trading website run by a fellow from Australia. He had a few rare Blur tapes I’d never known about, ones he had recorded himself. I emailed him to set up a trade, and he had said he could do that, and instead of sending him tapes, could I buy him something off of eBay and have it shipped to him (he’d cover postage, but he wanted to get a better deal on the currency exchange rate…sounded reasonable to me). However, my wife and I were newlyweds and really strapped for cash at the time, so I said I couldn’t do it at the moment, but how about a trade in a few months. He said sure, no problem. Then I never heard from him again. Fast forward to 2009. Every few months since 2002 I had continued to send a gentle “hello” and reminder email to the fellow’s email address. It never bounced back, but I assumed he never used it anymore. And then, in 2009, a few months before I published Black Book, he replied! He’d been getting my emails and had always meant to write back but forgot and had just been so busy with life. He gladly agreed to trade the recordings to me, and within weeks I had the tapes I’d been pining away for since 2002. While most of the time, if you miss out on a trade, it’s gone forever, this was one of those rare, happy times where dogged persistence paid off. I’m currently doing the same thing with another tape I’ve had my eye on since 2001…I last heard from the fellow in March 2010, so we’ll see how that one ends. ;-)

Special thanks to Jon Muller from the Facebook page, who mentioned he'd be interested in reading about this subject. I thought it was a great idea for an articleand I hope you do, too!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SHOW: Music Hall, Cologne, Germany June 16, 1993

Here's Blur's show from Cologne, Germany in 1993. Great show, nice sound, and it's always nice to hear something from 1993, when everything started clicking for Blur and they were on their way to the top. Enjoy!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=RZTE9DF8

Friday, December 10, 2010

More tour programme photos uploaded!

I've just uploaded photos of Blur's 2009 Summer Reunion Tour Programme to the Facebook page HERE. Check them out and hope you like them!

If you have any Blur tour programmes you're willing to part with, please let me know (I collect them).

Saturday, December 4, 2010

SHOW: East Anglian Railway Museum, Colchester, England June 13, 2009

Here's the available audio, from a few different video sources, of Blur's first show of 2009 in Damon, Graham, and Dave's hometown. Similar to the Newcastle show I put up a few weeks back, this isn't perfect but it's all we've got and is still enjoyable. Hope you dig this!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=7F9T89G6

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

More Tour Book Photos Uploaded

Last night I uploaded photos of the 1995 UK/US/Europe Tour Programme for the shows supporting The Great Escape. They're on the Facebook page, hope you enjoy them!

TOUR REVIEW: The Sugary Tea UK Tour of Fall 1993


As has been discussed on here, in Black Book, and elsewhere, 1993 was a turning point year for Blur. It was in this year that they harnessed their drunken energy and tightened up their live act, released a classic single (For Tomorrow) and (finally) released their landmark second album, Modern Life is Rubbish. As a touring year, 1993 was surprisingly light for early-era Blur...after a UK tour in the spring, they played some scattered shows in the UK and Europe before returning to proper touring in October.

This tour, called the Sugary Tea tour (after a line in Chemical World) encompassed most of October. The schedule is below, with the known and/or available recordings highlighted:

October 1993:

2nd - Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
3rd - Keele University, Newcastle-under-Lyme, UK
4th - Queen's Hall, Bradford, UK
5th - Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK
7th - Forum, London, UK
8th - Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, UK
9th - Municipal Hall, Pontypridd, UK
10th - University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
12th - Coventry University, Coventry, UK
13th - University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
14th - South Parade Pier, Portsmouth, UK
15th - University of Essex, Colchester, UK
16th - University of Sussex, Brighton, UK

Unfortunately, I only know of the existence of one recording from this tour, and that is the Bradford show. It would be great to hear more from this tour (if you have any, please contact me privately!). The set list for these shows (based on the Bradford show...if there were changes, I don't know them as the unavailability of recordings doesn't help) was:

Intermission
Popscene
Colin Zeal
Sunday Sunday
She’s So High
Girls and Boys
Come Together
Pressure on Julian
Commercial Break
There’s No Other Way
Chemical World
Coping
Parklife
For Tomorrow
Advert

A pretty standard set list, without too many surprises, although it is interesting that Come Together was still in the set, as it would be dropped by the European tour which began at the end of the month. Also, a pre-release version of Parklife, which was typical for the time, was included near the end of the set.

This is a somewhat "mythical" tour for the band, based mainly on the fact that, besides the cool name it has, there is hardly anything known about it! I do know that Salad were the support band, but beyond that, it remains a mystery, and as such, it is very interesting. It will take more detective work to bring more tapes to light (if they even exist) and to flesh out the picture of this tour.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Photos of Tour Book Uploaded

I'm going to be uploading photos of some Blur memorabilia I have to the official Facebook page for Black Book in order to share with all of you. First up, I'm upoading pictures for the tour programmes I have (so far, not many...Blur ones are hard to find). Pictures of the entire 1994 Parklife Tour Programme have been uploaded to Facebook HERE (and if you're not a fan on this page, you should be! I post lots of news and updates here and it's another nice place to discuss things with fans from all over).

If any of you do have Blur tour programmes and would be willing to trade me for them, let me know, as I collect them.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

An announcement...and a Happy Thanksgiving wish!

For all of you eBook readers out there, the Kindle version of Black Book (which will also work on iPads, iPhones, etc) should be available for purchase ($5.99) in a couple of days.

And to everyone out there, Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

SHOW: Reading Festival, England August 24, 1991

Here is Blur's show from the Reading Festival in 1991. This one sounds great, especially for an early show. Very energetic performance, too, warts and all. I've heard from quite a few people that have poor-sounding copies of this, but this one is VERY nice, so I hope you enjoy it. And as always, please leave comments so we can discuss this gig! Enjoy!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=VF3I02HX

Saturday, November 13, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Blur to begin recording in January 2011

Straight from the man himself, Damon stated in an interview that Blur met recently and are planning to convene for new recording sessions in January 2011. This is fantastic news and will hopefully lead to a new album or at least an EP. Let's discuss this!! Please comment, what do you think of this?

http://tinyurl.com/26tsn6f

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A nice review of Black Book


I just discovered yesterday that an excellent music webpage, The Music Slut, reviewed Black Book a couple of weeks ago. This was totally unsolicited (ie I did not contact them asking for a review...I stumbled across this on the web yesterday totally by accident). You can read the review HERE.

Let me know what you think...agree? Disagree? I want to hear from you whether you like the book, just think it's OK, or hate it with a passion!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CONCERT REVIEW: Meldtown Festival, Festival Hall, London, England July 2, 2000


After the yearlong touring of 1999 to promote 13, culminating in the Singles Night Tour in December, Blur for all intents and purposes took the year 2000 off, both in terms of recording and touring. They were invited to play at that year’s Meltdown Festival, put together in 2000 by Scott Walker. In keeping with the tradition to present more artistically challenging material and eschewing the more commercial material (that is, not playing “the hits”), Blur approached this one-off concert in that spirit and presented a set list that is among the most interesting and unique in their career:

Battle
Tender
Blue Jeans
Trimm Trabb
Country Sad Ballad Man
To the End
Look Inside America
Beetlebum
This is a Low
Death of a Party
No Distance Left to Run
On Your Own
Ernold Same
Black Book

Apart from the surprise of opening the show with Battle, there are a lot of goodies tucked into this show. This would be the final time (to date) Battle, Country Sad Ballad Man, Look Inside America, No Distance Left to Run, and On Your Own would ever be played live. Ernold Same, which had been played as a short instrumental between 1994 and 1996, is here presented as the full album version, complete with Ken Livingstone, who did the narration on The Great Escape, joining the band onstage. In my opinion, however, the real treat at this concert is the final song, Black Book. This is the only time the song was ever played in a live concert setting…at the time it was slated to be the band’s one-off non-album single in 2000, but eventually it was released as the b-side to the eventual Music is My Radar single. Still, it’s really nice to hear it here…it’s not as long as the studio version, but that’s ok.

As far as the performance goes, surprisingly, Blur sound very nervous and tentative throughout the show. There are some mix ups, most notably having to restart Beetlebum after it all falls apart. Luckily, there is some light banter onstage, mainly concerning Damon blaming it all on Alex and the cigarettes he smokes! The more obscure songs, which to me are the best parts of the show, are played with intense concentration and perhaps are not as visceral as more comfortable material like On Your Own or This is a Low, but they’re no less interesting. One thing to note throughout the show is how intimate it all feels. It’s truly one of the more “special” shows to listen to.

One last thing that makes this an historic show in Blur's history is that is was the final concert Graham Coxon played with the band until their Reunion Tour in 2009.

Recordings of this show are pretty easy to get a hold of, but if you're having trouble, and enough people are interested, I could always post it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

SHOW: O2 Academy, Newcastle, England June 25, 2009

Here's Blur's show from Newcastle on their reunion tour of 2009. This is cobbled together from various audience videos of varying quality. In addition, some songs aren't complete...however, this is almost the whole show, and all we have from Newcastle until an audience tape (or a soundboard!) pops up. I still think you'll enjoy it, especially if you were there that night. Enjoy!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=DI7FTE2U

Saturday, October 16, 2010

SHOW: Gorillaz @ Agannis Arena, Boston, MA October 6, 2010

Here's the recording I made of Gorillaz' show in Boston last week...not the best but not too bad. Hope you enjoy it!

UPDATE: for some reason the old link was dead, so here's the new one:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=I9PQ1443

LINK UPDATED NOVEMBER 18, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

UPCOMING SHOW: Gorillaz at Agannis Arena, Boston 10/6/10



I know this isn't Blur, but it's Blur-related...I managed to record the entire Gorillaz show in Boston last week. The sound isn't great but it's not terrible...your typical audience recording from halfway back in a large arena. I'm going to track it and clean it up a bit this weekend and will upload it when I'm done, so stay tuned! (the above picture is a photo I took of my ticket, (C) Drew Athans, 2010)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

GIG REVIEW: NME Gimme Shelter Charity Show, Town & Country Club, London, England July 23, 1992


After the disastrous 1992 US tour, Blur returned to the UK bruised, bloody, and bitter. Not making their mood any better was the fact that, while they were away, a new band by the name of Suede had taken the UK scene by storm...by returning rock music to English roots, something Blur had tried (and failed) to do with the release of Popscene prior to leaving for America. Against this backdrop, Blur were clearly not in the best frame of mind when they were invited to participate in the Shelter charity's benefit gig, co-hosted with the NME, entitled Gimme Shelter. On the bill were Blur, Suede, Mega City Four, and 3 1/2 Minutes. Irritated by their lack of success in America and the fact that they were now co-headlining with Suede, Blur began drinking early on the day of the gig. As was recounted in gory detail in 3862 Days, by the time they were due onstage, they were barely able to walk and were in foul moods.

Walking onstage, Damon told the crowd his now famous (infamous?) quote, "We're so shit, you should just fuck off now!" What followed was a gig that was chaotic, sloppy, and wildly exciting. As described in the official biography, the band was barely able to stand and kept crashing into each other and falling to the floor.

The set list was:

Popscene
Come Together
Advert
Colin Zeal
Pressure On Julian
She's So High
Oily Water
Never Clever
Luminous
Sunday Sunday
There's No Other Way
Coping

Of particular interest are two rarely played songs, Never Clever and Luminous, the former being, at the time, the intended follow-up to Popscene (which was scrapped once Popscene flopped in the charts). Also, as you can see, quite a lot of material slated for the second album was debuted for the UK crowd (some had been played earlier in the year) here, such as Advert, Colin Zeal, Pressure on Julian, Sunday Sunday, and Coping.

I've talked to a fellow who was there and he described the gig as "not very good," while other accounts range from it being awful to strangely enthralling. Some people even described it as the best gig they ever saw! (again, referring to accounts in the official bio). One thing that cannot be disputed is that David Balfe and Andy Ross, the heads of Food Records, were so disgusted that they gave Blur a dressing down the following day and threatened to drop them from the label if anything like this ever happened again. Obviously, as it turned out, Blur cleaned their act, tightened up their performances, and went on to become mega stars within 18 months. This can clearly be seen as their nadir, and their most key turning point, both in their attitude and approach to performing, as well as their work ethic.

For years, a recording of this gig has been a Holy Grail of mine (and other collectors) as all we've ever known of it are secondhand accounts and the passages in 3862 Days. I even did a ton of research on this gig for the No Distance Left to Run documentary, tracking down a fellow who was there, a ticket stub, and articles in NME and Melody Maker. But the material I uncovered was unused in the film because the actual recording remained elusive.

Until now.

Here, finally, after many years of searching by me, is the complete gig. I won't describe too much other than you can hear the drunkenness loud and clear, and the gig has its moments of being horrible and being quite good. A long and in-depth analysis will be included in the 2nd edition of Black Book, so until the book is complete and available for you to read, you can make your own opinions on this show.

VERY SPECIAL THANKS goes to Ian Rule, who was kind enough to share this recording with me and who agreed to let it be shared with the rest of the Blur fan community...thanks so much, Ian!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=H1RV13OU

PLEASE LEAVE COMMENTS after you've listened to this...I'd love to hear what you all think!

Friday, October 1, 2010

SHOW: BBC Hippodrome, London March 15, 1999

Blur's concert, recorded live by the BBC, on the day the 13 album was released. Fantastic sound and a fantastic performance. Enjoy and carry the music through the weekend, I hope it's good for everyone!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=YE81N4L7

Saturday, September 25, 2010

SHOW: University of London Union, London November 11, 1990

Here is an early Blur show from 1990...sound quality is not so great but historical importance rules the day here. A very early pre-release version of There's No Other Way with a different arrangement. Enjoy and leave some comments!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=YVGF6H74

Thursday, September 23, 2010

UPDATE: New download link for Blur at Wembley Arena 12/13/95

It was brought to my attention the link for this show was dead, so I've updated it (go HERE)...let me know any other shows you try to download that have dead links (it's all related to the level of activity...if no one downloads for 60 days, they kill the link).

And follow this page on Facebook and Twitter to get more updates!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

SHOW: Apollo, Manchester, England November 28, 2003

Here is a show from Blur's UK Winter Tour of 2003 to go along with this article. This was sent to me by the taper and will be included in the second edition of Black Book. Decent sound and a pretty good show...I hope you enjoy this!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=2R1IP2KA

Saturday, September 11, 2010

SHOW: Paleo Festival, Nyon, Switzerland July 22, 1994

Here is a great show from Blur's festival summer of 1994, in keeping with yesterday's article. Great sound and playing on this one...enjoy!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=FYSD0KMD

Friday, September 10, 2010

TOUR REVIEW: Festival Summer of 1994

As they did nearly every summer of their career, Blur toured during the summer of 1994 playing mainly festivals. Only, for the first time in their career, 1994 saw them as the headliner, playing in front of massive crowds due to the massive and overarching popularity of Parklife and its singles. The high point was the massive and legendary performance at Glastonbury (see HERE and HERE).

For the summer, Blur played the following festivals (available recordings are in bold):

June 1994:

25th - Old Trout, Windsor, UK
26th - Glastonbury Festival, UK

July 1994:

7th - Sonoria Festival, Milan, Italy
10th - Dour Music Festival, Belgium
20th - Quart Festival, Kristiansand, Norway
22nd - Paléo Festival, Nyon, Switzerland
30th - T In The Park Festival, Glasgow, UK
31st - Feile Festival, Ireland

August 1994:

11th - Hultsfred Festival, Sweden
14th - Marktrock Festival, Belgium
18th - PopKomm Festival, Cologne, Germany

Of the known recordings, all are available except for the Old Trout, Windsor show (which was a warm-up for Glasto) and the T in the Park show, both of which I am trying to track down. It'd be great if we could get copies of the other shows to fill out the summer's shows (if you have any recordings, please contact me privately). No surprises in the set lists, which all followed the same basic pattern:

Lot 105
Sunday Sunday
Jubilee
Tracy Jacks
Magic America
End Of A Century
For Tomorrow
Chemical World
There's No Other Way
To The End
Advert
Parklife
Girls & Boys
Bank Holiday
This Is A Low

The Hultsfred show had the band adding in a Swedish song called "The Frog Song" which is quite humorous to hear (I'll try to post it at a later date), while we all know about the legend of Glastonbury where they ended the show with an epic This is a Low as the sun was setting. When listening to these shows, you can hear how heady it all was for the band, as the crowd response is absolutely insane...it's a constant wall of cheering and singing along. Another thing to note, however, are Damon's rather annoying mockney stylings anytime he talks to the crowd between songs. All part of the image of the day, for sure, but it does get grating to listen to. But it's the music that counts, and these shows are some great ones, played with visceral energy and abandon, but still very tight and focused (download and listen to the Glastonbury show linked to above to hear it in pristine soundboard quality).


As an aside, this will be the last post for a while (2-3 weeks, probably) apart from maybe a show or two, while I undergo and recover from some minor surgery...but I'll still check in to banter back and forth in the comments section, so please leave comments and feedback!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Black Book is now on Twitter!

@BlackBookBlur

another way to stay up to date (along with the Facebook page) with all things related to Blur, live audio, the book, and this site!

Friday, August 27, 2010

TOUR REVIEW: 2003 UK Winter Tour

By the end of 2003, Blur was exhausted. They'd spent the entire year touring every corner of the globe (or as Damon put it at a show near the end of the year, it felt like they played "anywhere in the world there was a place to play."). Even with Graham's absence, they embarked upon a grueling campaign around the world to promote Think Tank. By mid-November, when the last segment of the tour began (this UK tour) they were visibly and aurally wiped out. However, they still managed to turn in a set of inspired performances with lots of goodies thrown into the set lists.

The tour dates are below, with available/known recordings in bold font:

November 2003:

20th - Barrowlands, Glasgow, UK
21st - Barrowlands, Glasgow, UK
22nd - Barrowlands, Glasgow, UK
24th - Royal Court, Liverpool, UK
25th - Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, UK
26th - Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, UK
28th - Apollo, Manchester, UK
29th - Apollo, Manchester, UK
30th - King Georges Hall, Blackburn, UK

December 2003:

2nd - Brixton Academy, London, UK
3rd - Brixton Academy, London, UK
4th - Brixton Academy, London, UK
5th - Coronet Theater, London, UK
7th - Olympia, Dublin, Ireland
8th - Olympia, Dublin, Ireland
9th - Olympia, Dublin, Ireland
11th - Centre, Brighton, UK
12th - Bournemouth International Centre, Bournemouth, UK

The typical set list (with the goodies added in) is below:

Ambulance
Beetlebum
Girls & Boys
Badhead
She's So High
Good Song
Tender
Colours
Caravan
Out Of Time
Brothers And Sisters
Song 2
To The End
End Of A Century
Music Is My Radar
Advert
Trimm Trabb
Battery In Your Leg
The Universal
Sing
For Tomorrow
On The Way To The Club
We've Got A File On You
This Is A Low

As you can see, She's So High, Music is My Radar, and Sing were all added and hadn't been played previously in the year (in fact, technically speaking Music is My Radar had never been played in a concert setting before its appearance during this tour). Additionally, Blur threw in a new song, Colours, which was their 2003 fanclub-only single at the time, during the early stages of this tour. Strange New From Another Star was also thrown in a show or two toward the end of this tour, although no recordings of it exist (at least at the moment).

So what do we have in these shows? A clearly exhausted (both physically and mentally) band that still manages to dig down deep and deliver very good to excellent performances. One thing that definitely marks this tour is Damon's very somber, almost depressing (at least to listen to) mood during the between-song breaks when he banters with the crowd. Especially during the final show in Bournemouth, it's almost as though Damon knows it's the end of the band, as he's constantly thanking everyone, from the fans, to the band, to the crew, "everyone who's ever worked with us," etc. He was clearly exhausted by Blur at that point, and as we all know, it would be another 6 years before the band would get back together and do anything (last summer's wonderful Reunion Tour, see HERE).

I will try post a recording from this tour in the near future (busy life permitting!)...if you have any recordings from this tour, please contact me privately!

And if you were at any of these shows, what was the general mood? What did you think of the concert(s)?

SHOW: VPRO AmstelStudio, Amsterdam, Holland February 25, 1999

Here's a pre-release 13 show from early 1999...great show, great sound. No surprises in the set list but a very nice show...enjoy!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=7XJIJ800

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Black Book now available on eBay

If you haven't bought a copy of Black Book and are interested, I've got copies up on eBay now, starting them off at a discount (and the ending price will not be any higher than what it goes for on Amazon, US $20), so if you want to get a copy at a slight discount (not counting shipping), this is a great way to do it, especially if you don't have an Amazon account!

I'll be putting copies up each week or so, so good luck!

Monday, August 2, 2010

TOUR REVIEW: Pre-Release Promotional Tour of 2003

In early 2003, Blur undertook a rather interesting promotional jaunt to promote their forthcoming album Think Tank before it was released. Emerging onto the concert stage for the first time since Graham Coxon's departure from the band, questions surrounded the band and how they would fare onstage. As they came forth and began what would turn out to be a grueling year of touring, they introduced their touring guitarist, Simon Tong, and an expanded live lineup that featured a keyboard player, percussionist, and backing singers.

This tour consisted of a series of shows in scattered locations around the globe, culminating finally with a five-night residency at the Astoria in May when the album was finally released (see HERE). The shows on this tour are below (available recordings are in bold).

February 2003:

7th - Parlophone Showcase, London, UK

March 2003:


6th - MTV Brand Spanking, London, UK

13th - SXSW Festival, Austin, Texas, USA
16th - Bowery Ballroom, New York City, New York, USA

April 2003:

7th - Fritz Studios, Potsdam, Germany
9th - L’Espace Clacquesin, Paris, France
11th - Real Fábrica de Tapices, Madrid, Spain
22nd - Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico
26th - Coachella Festival, Indio, California, USA

As you can see, most of this tour is available for listening. There are some interesting notes to these shows...for one thing, the two US shows in March (Texas and New York) featured a stand-in bass player, "Chris from Brooklyn" (as he was introduced by Damon) because Alex couldn't get his work visa cleared in time to play the shows! Also, for some of these shows, rare songs that wouldn't be played again in 2003 or beyond were tested out, including Top Man (played regularly during this period) and Colin Zeal (played only once). The shows themselves were rather low key with a typical set list of:

Ambulance
Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club
Out Of Time
Beetlebum
Girls & Boys
Badhead
Good Song
Trimm Trabb
Battery In Your Leg
On The Way To The Club
Gene By Gene
Brothers And Sisters
Top Man
Song 2
We've Got A File On You
Popscene
Caravan
Crazy Beat
This Is A Low

Damon can be heard during these shows marveling at the crowd singing along to the new songs weeks before the album has been released...that's the internet for you! All in all these shows offer a fascinating glimpse into a unique and rather uncertain time period for the band before the hit their stride at the Astoria in May and continued on to play anywhere and everywhere throughout the year.

FOR YOUR LISTENING, the New York show has been posted HERE...feel free to download it and have a listen...it's well played and interesting. One of the most unique Blur shows from their career.

If anyone has any recordings of the currently unavailable shows, I'd love to hear them...please contact me privately.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

SHOW: Avalon, Boston July 18, 2003

Since it was 7 years ago today that I saw Blur in Boston (you can read about it HERE and HERE) I thought I'd share this with you. A great show in a nice sounding recording...I enjoy it even more because I can hear myself hollering in the crowd (I'm the fellow who shouts "yeah!" right before Beetlebum starts). I was in the front for this show and it was a great concert. Hope you dig this recording as much as I dug being there.

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=2SZM67B5

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sorry it's been so long since I updated!

I've been so busy with work and life that I haven't had a chance to update this page...for that I apologize, and I'll try to get something up this weekend...if I don't, remind me!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

TOUR REVIEW: Spring 1993 UK Tour


In the spring of 1993, Blur set out on a tour of the UK and Ireland to promote their new album, Modern Life is Rubbish, which had finally been released after being held up for more than a year by their record company. There isn't much known about this tour (I'm working on that!) beyond the tour dates and set lists. First, the tour dates:

May 1993:

25th - Washington Heights, Reading, UK
26th - University, Leicester, UK
27th - Academy, Hanley, UK
28th - Roadmenders, Northampton, UK
29th - University, Manchester, UK
30th - University, Hull, UK

June 1993:

1st - Irish Centre, Birmingham, UK
2nd - University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
3rd - Stanmer Park, Brighton, UK
4th - Astoria, London, UK
5th - Tivoli, Dublin, Ireland
6th - Limelight, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
8th - University, Bristol, UK

Now, the known recordings are highlighted, but to date none of them have been circulated. A good friend of mine who taped the Manchester show is going to be sending it along soon so we may finally hear a show from this tour very soon. I've also been in contact with a fellow who has the Reading show, but so far no movement on that front. Now, there are a few reasons that make this tour and any recordings from it so desirable. First, there are NONE around right now, so there is a HUGE gap in Blur's concert history because of that. Second, set lists from the Reading and Leicester shows have been found and indicate that Blur played Starshaped at these shows. This fantastic song had not ever been even hinted at on other recordings, and if it was indeed played, this short tour would be the only time ever. In fact, the supposed set list from these shows, which is below, is quite intriguing:

Intermission
Popscene
Come Together
Colin Zeal
She's So High
Sunday Sunday
Oily Water
Starshaped
Pressure On Julian
Commercial Break
For Tomorrow
There's No Other Way
Chemical World
Coping
Never Clever
Parklife
Advert

Not only is there loads of material from the first two albums, but the aforementioned Starshaped, as well as the first ever live versions of Parklife (I previously had thought the Cologne show from June 1993 was the first time they played this song...because right now this is the earliest available show from '93). Clearly, being able to fill in this period in Blur's history and hear if Starshaped was indeed played would be wonderful. Third, it would be very interesting to hear Blur's mindset and mood during this tour after they emerged from all of the damage heaped upon them in 1992, a year that still bothered them years later in their career.

In the meantime, we'll have to wait and see if anything surfaces. Do you have any of these shows on tape or know someone who does? If so, please let me know privately...thanks!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

SHOW: Cliffs Pavilion, Southend, England June 21, 2009

Here is Blur's complete set from Southend on their 2009 reunion tour...includes the rarely played (in 2009) Battery in Your Leg and Essex Dogs...enjoy!


http://www.megaupload.com/?d=SB5FXDL2

Friday, June 18, 2010

TOUR REVIEW: 2009 Reunion Tour

In honoring the one year anniversary of Blur's magical tour from last summer, this review will focus on the shows they played last summer in June and July 2009. After six years of inactivity and no hope among fans they'd ever get back together, Blur reunited in December of 2008 and announced a show at London's Hyde Park on July 3rd, 2009. The response was so great that they added a second show on July 2nd and later expanded it into a full scale tour, including appearances at some major summer festivals, the centerpiece of which was Glastonbury.

The tour dates are below (available recordings highlighted):

June 2009:

13th - East Anglian Railway Museum, Colchester, UK
15th - Rough Trade East, London, UK
20th - Brixton Academy, London, UK
21st - Cliffs Pavilion, Southend, UK
22nd - Goldsmiths College, London, UK
24th - Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, UK
25th - O2 Academy, Newcastle, UK
26th - M.E.N. Arena, Manchester, UK
28th - Glastonbury Festival, UK

July 2009:

2nd - Hyde Park, London, UK

3rd - Hyde Park, London, UK
5th - Les Nuits De Fourvière Festival, Lyon, France
10th - Oxegen Festival, Ireland
12th - T In The Park Festival, Scotland, UK

Regarding recordings, all of the available shows are complete audience tapes except for the two Hyde Park shows (commercially available as official releases), Glastonbury (taken from the TV broadcast, incomplete), T in the Park (incomplete, taken from TV). The Colchester, Rough Trade, Goldsmiths, and Newcastle gigs are mostly complete and cobbled together from various audience video sources.

The interesting thing about this tour is that the way it was set up was a geographical and chronological summation of Blur's history, starting where they played their first ever gig (in Colchester), moving to where they met up in London (Goldsmiths) and moving on through important places to the band (Wolverhampton, where Smoggy and Stu are from), Manchester, Glastonbury, and leading eventually to Hyde Park for two massive outdoor shows, playing in front of 50,000+ people each night.

The set list was:

She's So High
Girls & Boys
Tracy Jacks
There's No Other Way
Jubilee
Badhead
Beetlebum
Trimm Trabb
Coffee & TV
Tender
Country House
Charmless Man
Colin Zeal
Oily Water
Chemical World
Sunday Sunday
Parklife
End Of A Century
To The End
This Is A Low
Popscene
Advert
Song 2
Out Of Time
Battery In Your Leg
Essex Dogs
Death of a Party
For Tomorrow
The Universal

The interesting songs are highlighted...sadly, they didn't last long in the set...Colin Zeal was only played on the first night in Colchester, Charmless Man was dropped after Brixton Academy, and Essex Dogs and Battery in Your Leg were dropped after Southend. After those songs were dropped, the set list remained the same throughout the tour, with the exception of T in the Park (more on that later). Death of a Party was added for the Hyde Park shows and remained there throughout the balance of the tour.

One thing that was obvious is that the guys were still on top of their game in terms of their musicianship, turning in top-notch, high-energy performances and conveying onstage they were having a LOT of fun! It's hard not to get misty-eyed listening to The Universal, for example, when spinning the Hyde Park show, or getting pumped up and jumping around during Tracy Jacks...the shows were that good!

The Rough Trade show was a secret show announced on the radio right before the concert, so tickets were hard to come by. The Brixton Academy show was invite-only for family and friends, while the Manchester show was the only arena show on the tour (and funnily enough, the only one that didn't sell out!). After the Hyde Park shows, Blur played a show in France and a massive festival in Ireland, which leads us to their final show in Scotland. The T in the Park show nearly didn't happen, as Graham got food poisoning and was rushed to the hospital hours before the show and nearly didn't make it back. Luckily, he was able to play, although they shortened the set because of this.

Still, all in all, this was a wonderful and magical tour that not only brought Blur's music to their fans once more, but brought together Blur fans from around the world, both at the gigs and online (many of the good friends I've made abroad were due to our online excitement, discussions, and sharing of experiences during last summer)...I think it's safe to say it holds a special place in the hearts of MANY Blur fans for a variety of reasons, all of them positive!

I'd love to hear a complete Glastonbury or some audience tapes of the shows that are only available from poor quality audience video...not only would it be very enjoyable, but it would help flesh out the story of this tour more. If you have any or know someone who does, let me know privately!

In the meantime, keep enjoying the music and the memories...I know I will!

And I will try to get the Southend show up this weekend...in the meantime, the Glastonbury show is HERE.

Friday, June 11, 2010

New layout

So I've made a new layout for the site...I personally think it looks much better and is easier to read and navigate...what do you all think?

Comments welcomed!

SHOW: Brixton Academy, London December 11, 1997

In keeping with the most recent article on Blur's 1997 UK Winter tour, here is the second London show and the first show at Brixton Academy, broadcast on BBC Radio 1. A great show in soundboard quality, and this is the rare complete version (most versions of this broadcast are missing a few songs)...enjoy!


http://www.megaupload.com/?d=H04SYDMT

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TOUR REVIEW: UK Winter tour of 1997

After spending nearly all of 1997 touring around the world, Blur ended the grueling but rewarding year with a UK tour, beginning in late November and ending in mid-December, a week before Christmas. As you can see from the poster above, this was not a small tour, and demand for tickets was VERY high. Having spent the year making three trips to America, tours in Europe, Australia, Japan, and Southeast Asia, not to mention trips to far-flung outposts such as Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands, it must have been some comfort to return to the UK, where Blur hadn't toured since January/early February (apart from some festivals and one-off shows).

The tour dates are below, and the available recordings are highlighted:

November 1997:

28th - The Point Depot, Dublin, Ireland
30th - Ice Arena, Hull, UK

December 1997:

1st - SECC, Glasgow, UK
2nd - Arena, Newcastle, UK
4th - NYNEX Arena, Manchester, UK
5th - International Arena, Cardiff, UK
6th - NEC, Birmingham, UK
7th - Arena, Sheffield, UK
9th - Wembley Arena, London, UK
11th - Brixton Academy, London, UK
12th - Brixton Academy, London, UK
13th - Brixton Academy, London, UK
16th - BIC, Bournemouth, UK
17th - Centre, Brighton, UK

Unfortunately, only five shows are available: the opening night in Dublin, Glasgow, and the first three of the four consecutive shows in London. I don't know of any other recordings from this tour, but if anyone out there has some, please contact me!

As you can see, in addition to playing four shows on their London hometurf, they also play in Alex's hometown of Bournemouth, as well as other locales around the UK.

The typical set list was:

Beetlebum
M.O.R.
There's No Other Way
Colin Zeal
Globe Alone
Popscene
On Your Own
She's So High
For Tomorrow
Country Sad Ballad Man
Swallows In The Heatwave
Chinese Bombs
Advert
Bank Holiday
Girls & Boys
Death Of A Party
This Is A Low
Theme From Retro
The Universal
Parklife
Coping
I'm Just A Killer For Your Love
Song 2

There were some minor variations, most notably swapping in Jubilee and Oily Water during at least the second Brixton Academy show (Damon mentions on the Radio 1 broadcast of the first show that they'll change the songs up a bit for the three Brixton Academy shows, and they did). One thing to notice from these shows is how tired the band seems, even while turning in inspired performances and seeming to be in good spirits on stage. Damon repeatedly throughout this tour mentions to the crowd that they're "not gonna tour again" after this tour wraps up, prompting many at the time to believe that Blur were packing it in. While they obviously didn't do that, they did, for the most part, take 1998 off (only playing three warm-up gigs and Glastonbury...see HERE). Of course they also spent '98 writing and recording 13 and would again tour heavily in 1999. Perhaps Damon was just wiped out from the long slog around the world...they literally spent from January to December on the road, with some small breaks in between.

The performances we have on recording, however, are generally excellent, with some blistering performances. This tour would mark the final time a lot of the material from the Blur album would be performed live (Movin' On, Theme From Retro, Swallows in the Heatwave, and others that would disappear after the 1998 shows, such as Chinese Bombs, M.O.R., Country Sad Ballad Man).

I know a lot of people who went to shows on this tour and still talk about how amazing they were. If any of you were there, how about sharing some memories with us in the comments section?

And of course, as always if you have any recordings, please contact me privately!

Friday, June 4, 2010

10,000 Visitors and counting!

Today BLAAP recorded the 10,000th visitor to the site...not bad since it's only been around since late October (some 7-8 months)...thanks to all who visit and contribute feedback/comments/material to the site and project. I hope you enjoy it, and look forward to more stuff in the coming months!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Blur at Glastonbury: Which one is best?

So now that all four of Blur's Glasto sets are available for your listening pleasure (1992, 1994, 1998, 2009), go ahead and re-read THIS and then vote for your favorite set (and tell us WHY!) in the comments section!

SHOW: Glastonbury Festival June 26, 1994

Here is Blur's legendary set from the Glastonbury Festival in 1994, brought to you in this VERY rare COMPLETE soundboard recording...it sounds great! I also have a complete audience recording of this show, but the sound is atrocious and it's interesting only for comparison purposes.

Enjoy!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=CXYR0ZHU

Saturday, May 29, 2010

SHOW: Glastonbury Festival, June 27, 1998

Here is Blur's set from Glastonbury in 1998 to go along with the previous article. It takes two sources to patch together the entire show, which is why the sound changes for some songs. Not a perfect soundboard recording, but damn good and definitely worth it.

Enjoy!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=UI7QS4BT

TOUR REVIEW: 1998

After the insane amount of touring Blur did up to and including 1997 (where the entire year was literally spent on the road), Blur took it easy in 1998. Their headlining slot at the Glastonbury festival was the only major gig of the year. To prep for it, they played three low-key warm-up shows (one of which was a fan-club only show). The tour dates (if you want to call it a tour!) are below. The available recordings are highlighted:

June 1998:

23rd - Alley Cat, Reading, UK
24th - Q Club, Birmingham, UK (fan-club only show)
25th - Pavilion, Bath, UK
27th - Glastonbury Festival, UK


Recordings of every show apart from the first one in Reading are in hand and offer fascinating listening. (Damon and Graham also made an appearance at the Meltdown Festival in London in July, playing a set with Silver Apples...a recording of this also exists and is superb, even though it's not technically a Blur show).

The interesting thing is the set list they used for these shows...a real weirdo of a running order:

Girls & Boys
On Your Own
Beetlebum
End Of A Century
Country Sad Ballad Man
South Park (aka Freestyle aka Trailerpark)
Popscene
M.O.R.
There's No Other Way
Repetition
I'm Just A Killer For Your Love
Coping
For Tomorrow
This Is A Low
Parklife
The Universal
Death Of A Party
Essex Dogs
Song 2

So many strange things about the set, including Girls and Boys and On Your Own as openers, the revival of Repetition (which seems such an odd and random choice...the only previous live recordings are from the early 1990s Leisure-era shows), the live debut of Trailerpark (under a couple of working names, a year before it would appear on 13), and the first ever live performances of Essex Dogs. Now, while this is a great song (in my opinion, at least...I know many fans don't care for it at all), it was a rather strange choice to introduce into the set as an encore, especially at Glastonbury! However, it seems to have gone down really well, judging from the recordings.

An interesting thing to note is that the tapes of the Bath and Birmingham shows sound like the small club shows they were, with lots of intimate and humorous exchanges with the crowds. The band sound like they're having a blast and the crowd sounds like a non-stop party, just how you'd want a gig to be. By the time they get to Glastonbury, the band are constantly worrying about the crush of the crowd at the front and the abysmal weather conditions for the poor festival-goers (1998's festival was very muddy, wet, and unsanitary). They even stopped a song in the middle and threatened to leave the stage if things didn't settle down in front (during Country Sad Ballad Man). According to many accounts I've read, Blur were so appalled by the conditions of the festival that they vowed never to perform there again (and they didn't...until 2009, of course)!

All in all, even though the number of shows they played is quite small, they offer fascinating listening and act as a bridge between the headiness and success of touring the Blur album and the experimental era of 13.

By the way, if anyone has a copy of the Reading show, please contact me privately!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

TOUR REVIEW: Fall UK tour of 1991

While 1989 and 1990 saw the young Blur touring sporadically, 1991 saw them settling into the grueling tour schedule they'd follow for the next 8 years (with the exception of 1998's lay-off). At this point they had three singles released (She's So High, There's No Other Way, and Bang), one of which brought them early fame (There's No Other Way, which reached #8 in the charts) and their first album, Leisure, which again was reviewed very favorably in the press. By the time the fall of 1991 came around, Blur were on a roll and touring heavily. The tour dates are below (available recordings are highlighted):

October 1991:

4th - Town Hall, Middlesbrough, UK
5th - Octagon, Sheffield, UK
7th - McGonagle's, Dublin, Ireland
8th - Mandela Hall, Belfast, North Ireland
10th - Leicester University, Leicester, UK
11th - University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
12th - Manchester Academy, Manchester, UK
14th - Institute, Birmingham, UK
15th - Liverpool University, Liverpool, UK
17th - Fnac/Les Inrockuptibles Festival, Lyon, France
18th - Fnac/Les Inrockuptibles Festival, Lille, France
19th - Fnac/Les Inrockuptibles Festival, Paris, France
21st - Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
22nd - Leeds Polytechnic, Leeds, UK
23rd - Corn Exchange, Cambridge, UK
24th - Kilburn National Ballroom, London, UK

As you can see, this UK tour included a three-day jaunt to France to appear at a festival. The typical set list was:

Popscene
Fool
High Cool
Bad Day
Oily Water
Slow Down
There's No Other Way
Turn It Up
She's So High
Wear Me Down
Come Together
Day Upon Day
Sing
Explain
Commercial Break

In addition to playing the bulk of Leisure onstage, some new material was previewed as well during this period, including Popscene (which would be the next single) and Oily Water. More new songs would be added to the set in early 1992. It's also nice to hear great b-sides like Explain and Day Upon Day in the set, as these would disappear once 1992 rolled around and more songs that would eventually end up on Modern Life is Rubbish were added to the set.

Immediately after the final show in London, Blur headed to America for their first US tour...this UK tour sees them hitting their stride and playing with confidence, so much so that by the time they get to the USA, they're firing on all cylinders.

There are so many shows from this tour that are not only not available on recordings, but it's even unknown whether more exist. If they do, please contact me privately. It would be fascinating to piece together more from this tour, especially earlier on when it began!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New stuff soon!

I just want to update all of you who visit this here blog: things have been VERY busy in my life right now, but I hope to get some more articles written and posted, as well as more music! So stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

SHOW: Wembley Arena, London December 13, 1995

Here is Blur's final show of 1995 (and their third at Wembley in December 1995). The sound is pristine, and while the band sounds tired at times, this is still one of my favorite shows...a great one to listen to. This complete soundboard version is very rare, so I hope you all like it. Enjoy!

UPDATE: I've reuploaded it due to many requests and the fact that the original MegaUpload link is dead (as is MegaUpload!)

Enjoy!

http://www.sendspace.com/file/qyv8wo

TOUR REVIEW: 1995 Japanese Tour

As they usually did in other years, in 1995 Blur toured Japan, where they always seem to play fantastic gigs (with some rare songs) in front of fanatical crowds. The tour was squeezed in between the end of their European tour in October and the beginning of their UK tour in late November/December. The tour dates are below (known and available recordings are highlighted):

November 1995:

2nd - Sun Palace, Fukuoka, Japan
3rd - Aichi Kosen-nenkin Kaikan, Nagoya, Japan
4th - Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan
6th - Izumiti 21 Hall, Sendai, Japan
8th - Budokan, Tokyo, Japan
9th - NHK Hall, Tokyo, Japan

The Osaka and Tokyo (Budokan) shows are in hand, while I am currently chasing down a lead for the Tokyo (NHK) show. The typical set list is:

The Great Escape
Charmless Man
Jubilee
Popscene
She's So High
End Of A Century
Tracy Jacks
Mr. Robinson's Quango
To The End
Fade Away
It Could Be You
Stereotypes
Girls & Boys
Chemical World
Advert
Bank Holiday
For Tomorrow
Country House
This Is A Low
Supa Shoppa
Yuko And Hiro
He Thought Of Cars
Parklife
Coping
Globe Alone
The Universal

In addition to being a long set with material from every album represented, these Japanese shows from 1995 contain the only known live performances of Yuko and Hiro, which is fitting! In addition, some material from The Great Escape was dropped in favor of some older material, making these set lists fascinating cross-sections of all of Blur's material to date (although Leisure was still underrepresented). The 1995 Japanese tour wasn't as wild, crazy, and spontaneous the 1994 one, nor as epic as the 1997 one, but it still has some excellent performances and is worth checking out. (Of course, if you have the Live at the Budokan album, you have most of that show, apart from a few missing songs...I will put the complete show up soon).

If anyone out there has the NHK hall show or any shows, please contact me privately.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

SHOW: The Factory, Milan, Italy November 10, 1994

Here is a good show from the European tour of 1994, the famous "blackout" show where Blur lost power onstage after the opening string of numbers! A unique event...enjoy!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=25ESHM44

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

SHOW: Essex University Dancehall, Colchester, England April 27, 1991

Here's an early show, from 1991, in Damon, Graham, and Dave's hometown. The sound quality is not great but it's acceptable for a 20 year old audience tape. The show is a gem, though. Enjoy!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=NVTDJAGX

TOUR REVIEW: 1991: The First American Tour

In 1991, Blur made their first trip to America and undertook a short US tour to promote Leisure and the modest success of There's No Other Way. The little jaunt consisted of four known dates, with more likely in between November 1st and 10th. The known tour dates are below:

October 1991:

28th - Lee's Palace, Toronto, Canada
Unknown date (somewhere between the 29th and 31st) - Unknown Venue, Boston, Massachusetts

November 1991:

1st - Marquee, New York City, New York
10th - Metro, Chicago, Illinois
14th - KROQ Noontime Free Concert, Roxy Theatre, Los Angeles, California
14th - Roxy Theatre, Los Angeles, California

The available recordings are highlighted, and it is not known at this time if any others exist.

The set lists for the two shows (which were considerably different) are:

November 10, 1991:

Popscene
Fool
High Cool
Bad Day
Oily Water
Bang
Slow Down
Turn It Up
She's So High
Wear Me Down
There's No Other Way
Come Together
Day Upon Day
Explain

November 14, 1991:

Popscene
High Cool
Bad Day
Bang
Slow Down
She's So High
Wear Me Down
There's No Other Way
I'm All Over
Come Together
Explain

As you can see, in addition to the material from Leisure, some new songs were played (Oily Water, Turn It Up, Popscene), and the second show has a rare live version of I'm All Over. Both of these are very nice to listen to (the Los Angeles show can already be found on BLAAP HERE, while I will try to get the Chicago show up soon).

What makes 1991 an interesting year in the history of Blur is that, not only were they on the rise in the UK with their debut album and the success of There's No Other Way, but they were starting to gain momentum in the USA. Sadly, this was to come to a screeching halt in both countries in 1992 with the poor chart performance of Popscene, conflicts with their record company in the UK (Food Records), the ineptitude of their US record company (SBK). And perhaps the two biggest factors that hardened and sharpened Blur's resolve in late 1992: their escalating drinking, and the disastrous US tour of 1992 (for more on this, go HERE). But at this point in 1991, the sky seemed to be the limit for the ascendant Blur. And you can feel that coming through in these performances...hopefully more information on the other tour dates will come to light, as well as some new recordings to analyze this period in their history.

And as always, if you have any additional recordings or know someone who does, please contact me privately.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

SHOW: Bowery Ballroom, New York City, New York March 16, 2003

One of only a few warm-up shows Blur played before Think Tank was released, this is the only one available. It's an interesting show for two reasons: the band is surprised the crowd knows the songs before the album was out, and Alex couldn't make it to the USA due to visa issues, so Chris Traynor fills in on bass! A weird gig, but an enjoyable one...hope you like it!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=WH8U3B8B

SHOW: Monash University, Melbourne, Australia November 1, 1997

Here is one of only two known recordings from Blur's sole Australian tour in 1997. This is an excellent quality soundboard recording, and the show is one of the best from 1997. Enjoy this one, and turn it up loud!!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=8Q01RJPH

Monday, April 12, 2010

TOUR REVIEW: Fall European Tour of 1994


During the insanely busy year of 1994, Blur played all over the world from April until the end of November. Starting right after their Fall US Tour and being immediately followed by their Japanese tour in November, they did some heavy touring in Europe during October and November, including a whole host of dates in France. The tour dates are below (and the available recordings are in bold font):

October 1994:

9th - The Loft, Berlin, Germany
10th - Kantine, Cologne, Germany
11th - Batschkapp, Frankfurt, Germany
12th - Tilt, Munich, Germany
13th - Markthalle, Hamburg, Germany
19th - La Leiterie, Strasbourg, France
20th - Le Montjoye, Besancon, France
21st - Salle Bois d L'Aulne, Marseilles, France
22nd - La Krakaota, Bordeaux, France
24th - Exo, Rouen, France
25th - Bataclan, Paris, France
26th - Transborder, Lyon, France
27th - Zig Zag, Orleans, France
28th - Art Rock Festival, St. Brieuc, France
30th - Zeleste II, Barcelona, Spain
31st - Paradiso, Amsterdam, Holland

November 1994:

1st - Christiana, Copenhagen, Denmark
2nd - Sentrum Scene, Oslo, Norway
3rd – Palladium, Stockholm, Sweden
5th - Gothenburg, Sweden
6th - Lund, Sweden
9th - Geneva, Switzerland
10th - The Factory, Milan, Italy
11th - Rimini, Italy
12th - Florence, Italy
13th - Florence, Italy

Of the available recordings, the Paris, Copenhagen, and Oslo ones are uncirculated although I am working on getting copies of them. The general set list for the tour is below:

Lot 105
Sunday Sunday
Jubilee
Tracy Jacks
Magic America
End Of A Century
Coping
Chemical World
There's No Other Way
To The End
Advert
Supa Shoppa
Parklife
Girls & Boys
Mr. Robinson's Quango
Bank Holiday
This Is A Low

As you can see, nothing too surprising, as it draws heavily from Parklife and Modern Life is Rubbish, with only a single nod to Leisure. They were also at this time previewing Mr. Robinson's Quango from the forthcoming Great Escape album (they had started playing it earlier in 1994) and would throw in a short instrumental version of Ernold Same as well, from time to time.

While these shows were generally solid, you can definitely hear the fatigue come through. This is especially true as the concerts go on...they tend to start out well, get sluggish by the middle, and then mostly recover by the end. It's understandable, as by this time they'd been on the road a solid 6 months and still had a considerable Japanese jaunt planned for a week after this tour ended. However, the Japanese shows were some of their best, most frenzied of the tour (and of their career...read about them HERE).

All in all, while the recordings from this tour don't contain Blur's best shows, they're solid and worth checking out, despite the lack of surprises in the set lists or performances. If anyone was at any of these shows (and even if you weren't), share some feedback in the comments section!

And of course, if you have any recordings from this tour (or any others), please contact me privately.

Friday, April 9, 2010

SHOW: Luna Park Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina November 27, 1999

Here is a GREAT sounding concert from Blur's mini-tour of Latin and South America (for more info on it, go HERE). This includes rare post-1997 versions of Country House, Stereotypes, and On Your Own...a great show. Enjoy!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=4QTFV7WS

Thursday, April 8, 2010

BLACK BOOK now available at international Amazon sites!

JUST TO LET ALL THE UK BLUR FANS KNOW:

Black Book is *FINALLY* available on Amazon.co.uk, for 12 quid:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Book-Live-History-Blur/dp/1449530389/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1270745522&sr=8-1

I know some of you have contacted me saying you wanted a copy but didn't want to buy if from the US Amazon...well, now you can get it from the UK!

It is also available from Amazon.fr (France), Amazon.de (Germany), Amazon.ca (Canada), and Amazon.jp (Japan)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

SHOW: Laugardalshöllin, Reykjavik, Iceland August 31, 1997

Here is Blur's 1997 show in Iceland, to accompany the preceding article. Compare and contrast this concert with the 1996 show. Still, enjoyable and worth having. Enjoy!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=KCWMK4WX

SHOW: Laugardalshöllin, Reykjavik, Iceland September 8, 1996

Here is Blur's show from Iceland in 1996, to accompany the preceding article. Enjoy this rare and excellent Blur concert!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=IKTCHXTZ

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

CONCERT REVIEWS: Blur in Iceland (and beyond)

In 1996, after finishing off their touring obligations with some festival appearances in the summer (see THIS POST) and debuting a couple of new songs (Song 2, Chinese Bombs), Blur retreated into the studio to continue working on their musical reinvention. During this time Damon became enamored with the country of Iceland, so much so that he invested in a pub there and invited the band up for some recording. During this period, in the fall of 1996, Blur played a one-off show, on September 8, 1996 (the poster is courtesy Bjorn Halldorsson)



The concert was held at the Laugardalsholl in Reykjavik, Iceland on September 8, 1996 and the set list was:

Stereotypes
Tracy Jacks
Charmless Man
It Could Be You
Jubilee
End Of A Century
Beetlebum
Look Inside America
She's So High
Popscene
Globe Alone
Bank Holiday
Supa Shoppa
This Is A Low
Sing
Girls & Boys
Country House
To The End
For Tomorrow
There's No Other Way
Song 2
Parklife
The Universal

That is a great set list! First, they start off with Stereotypes, which is very unusual. The set includes rare (for 1996) performances of Sing, For Tomorrow, and the last Country House for a while. PLUS, two new songs were debuted: the very first live performances of Beetlebum and Look Inside America. Song 2 was also played (Chinese Bombs, debuted during the summer, is absent). Beetlebum sounds tentative but fully formed, although it's the first time Damon ever played guitar onstage and he warns the crowd beforehand! Look Inside America again sounds timid but complete, while Song 2 has slightly different lyrics than the versions from the summer of 1996, but is closer to the final version. A great concert. The anonymity Iceland offered, far from the roving eyes of the UK media, as well as the welcoming nature of the people that Blur found there, let them stretch out both in the studio and onstage to be more daring, and the results, again both on record and stage, were staggering.

This 1996 adventure stands in stark contrast with the show Blur played in Iceland at the same venue in 1997, on August 31, 1997 (poster courtesy of Bjorn again):



It was part of Blur's mini-tour of Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands, and is a much more somber, sloppy concert, supposedly because they found out Princess Diana had died that day. They took to the stage angry, sad, and very, very drunk. The set list was:

Beetlebum
M.O.R.
Movin' On
Stereotypes
Badhead
Country Sad Ballad Man
She's So High
To The End
Popscene
Chinese Bombs
Advert
Coping
Girls & Boys
Death Of A Party
The Universal
Theme From Retro
On Your Own
Parklife
Country House
I'm Just A Killer For Your Love
Song 2

Only the songs in bold font are available on recording. Bjorn and I are working on getting the complete show. Country House was played (surprisingly, it made a brief comeback in August 1997, as evidenced on the available V97 recording, which you can also download HERE). Overall, the band sound subdued, depressed, and bored, as if they want to get the concert over with and get off stage as quickly as possible. Still, it's a fascinating listen, and mediocre Blur is still better than no Blur at all!

The following posts will be the recordings of these two shows for your enjoyment. Please leave feedback!

Something nice coming up...


...just as I promised last week. I am working on a post about Blur's shows in Iceland in 1996 and 1997. I am finally going to get really cracking on it, thanks to my friend Bjorn from Iceland who has kindly supplied some excellent photos and memorabilia to go along with the post (I'll also include the recordings). Bear with me as I work on it (sadly, this isn't my full time job...I need to support my family somehow!) but I hope it'll be worth the wait!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Follow BLAAP and Black Book on Facebook!

For anyone on Facebook, you can follow Black Book and this site HERE

So if you haven't yet, pop on over to Facebook and become a fan to keep up with any updates about the book and the site!

An improvement...

I've gone through and labeled all of the show downloads by year, so now if you want to see what's available, you can just go to the righthand side of the page and click on the year (1990 through 2009) and it will take you to the shows. Why didn't I think of this sooner?

Feedback!

No, not the kind that comes from Graham's guitar, although that's great, too. But I love getting feedback from all of you who frequent this site, and new visitors, too! Please leave comments with suggestions, critiques, comments, Blur memories, anything! That's how interesting discussions start, and it helps me to make this a better site for everyone!

Cheers!

SHOW: La Luna, Portland, Oregon June 17, 1997

Here's Blur's show from Portland during their second US tour of 1997 in June. A great show with a great set list.

Enjoy!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=TKUBX0MT

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

TOUR REVIEW: Spring European Tour of 1997

1997 was a massive touring year for Blur, where they toured non-stop from January to December and traveled literally all over the world, including their first (and to date, only) tours of Australia and Southeast Asia. Starting just 12 days after the end of the spring US tour and ending only 10 days before their spring Japanese tour, they sandwiched in this European tour. The tour dates are below, with the available recordings in bold font.

April 1997:

2nd - Brielport, Deinze, Belgium
3rd - Zenith, Paris, France
5th - E-Werk, Cologne, Germany
7th - Solnahallen, Stockholm, Sweden
8th - Valbyhallen, Copenhagen, Denmark
10th - Grosse Freiheit, Hamburg, Germany
11th - Arena, Berlin, Germany
13th - Congreshalle, Stuttgart, Germany
14th - Stadhalle, Offenbach, Germany
15th - Stadhalle, Nuremburg, Germany
16th - Coloseum, Munich, Germany
17th - Messepalast, Vienna, Austria
22nd - Peel Acres, England
29th - MC Vredenburg, Utrecht, Holland

May 1997:

1st - Concerto del Primo Maggio, Rome, Italy
2nd - Volkshaus, Zurich, Switzerland
3rd - Centre Sportif du Bout-du-Monde, Geneva, Switzerland
4th - Transborder, Lyon, France
6th - Theatre de Verdure, Nice, France
8th - Zenith, Valencia, Spain
9th - Pabellon de Real Madrid, Madrid, Spain
10th - Vall D'Hebron, Barcelona, Spain
13th - Teatro, Naples, Italy
14th - Sportshall, Cesena, Italy
15th - Palavobis, Milan, Italy

The typical set list was:

Beetlebum
Movin' On
Jubilee
Stereotypes
Country Sad Ballad Man
M.O.R.
To The End
She's So High
Oily Water
Popscene
Chinese Bombs
Advert
Bank Holiday
Death Of A Party
Girls & Boys
This Is A Low
Song 2
On Your Own
Look Inside America
Parklife
The Universal
Sing

There were slight variations, with Inertia replacing Oily Water during the early part of the tour, and Coping being played earlier in the tour as well. Also, some shuffling of the song order occurred, such as Jubilee being played second a few times, Girls and Boys alternating between the beginning and end of the shows, and other minor variations. The set is a nice cross section of Blur's material up to this point, with only Stereotypes and The Universal surviving from The Great Escape. Most of the songs from Blur were played, although I'm Just a Killer For Your Love was absent and would surface in the set during the summer US tour. This tour shows the band really hitting their stride, although the shows tend to be more "professional" and less manic...the shows are really nice. And they even managed to squeeze in a Peel Acres session at the end of April back in England!

As I mentioned, the bold font shows have known available recordings. I have all of them except for the ones I am currently seeking, which are the Hamburg, Berlin, and Cesena shows. If you have these or any others, please contact me privately.

There are gaps in this tour, especially during mid-April and May, so it would be great to find some to fill in the gaps! Especially some shows from this tour in France and Spain!