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.



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
End Of A Century
Country Sad Ballad Man
South Park (aka Freestyle aka Trailerpark)
There's No Other Way
I'm Just A Killer For Your Love
For Tomorrow
This Is A Low
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:

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
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!)


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
She's So High
End Of A Century
Tracy Jacks
Mr. Robinson's Quango
To The End
Fade Away
It Could Be You
Girls & Boys
Chemical World
Bank Holiday
For Tomorrow
Country House
This Is A Low
Supa Shoppa
Yuko And Hiro
He Thought Of Cars
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.