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:

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

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!

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
Trimm Trabb
Coffee & TV
Country House
Charmless Man
Colin Zeal
Oily Water
Chemical World
Sunday Sunday
End Of A Century
To The End
This Is A Low
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 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!

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:

There's No Other Way
Colin Zeal
Globe Alone
On Your Own
She's So High
For Tomorrow
Country Sad Ballad Man
Swallows In The Heatwave
Chinese Bombs
Bank Holiday
Girls & Boys
Death Of A Party
This Is A Low
Theme From Retro
The Universal
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 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.