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!


  1. The Glasgow gig on 1st December 1997 was the first gig I ever went to. 13 years later, I still fondly remember it as one of the best. A totally exhilarating performance. I was a massive Blur fan at the time, and I was thrilled to hear some older stuff in the set (Popscene in particular) as I had been expecting them to mainly play stuff from what was at the time the new album.

    Can you tell me where I might be able to get a copy of the audio recording from that gig? It would be incredible to revisit that experience again.

  2. I was at the Hull gig and im afraid I dont remember it as one of the best (mine were Milton Keynes 1995, and Leeds 1994) of course it was still great...

    But looking at the above set list...wow that is not far from perfect in my Blur tastes, would have liked 2009 a bit more like that.