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:

Girls & Boys
She's So High
Good Song
Out Of Time
Brothers And Sisters
Song 2
To The End
End Of A Century
Music Is My Radar
Trimm Trabb
Battery In Your Leg
The Universal
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!

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:

Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club
Out Of Time
Girls & Boys
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
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'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.