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.

9 comments:

  1. you forgot write that meldtown was the last public gig before graham left the band (till 2009 when he come back)

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  2. black book is one of my favourite blur songs - would definitely love to hear that one live!

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  3. Of course, how did I fail to mention it was Graham's last gig until 2009???

    As for anonymous (don't know your name!) I'll put it in the queue...the live version is sadly missing the extended jam, but it's still very good.

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  4. I have an audience recording that sounds ok...I am wondering, is there a soundboard recording or anything that sounds better?

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  5. Is yours a true audience recording or is it from the video? I need to go back and look at mine...what I listed as an AUD in my book may be from the video, but it may not be.
    There is a fantastic sounding SBD recording, I've got it, but have been asked not to share it out at this time (due to legal reasons) but I could put up my AUD/VID source to compare to yours?

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  6. Well, It's a guess that it's not from video, because every once in a while, you get a really loud, "yeah" or something that I assume comes from near the taper...I just found this recording on the internet, it's not mine. Too bad about sharing your sbd recording, because this is one of my favorite shows. Thanks for this blog, I have really enjoyed some of your fantastic sounding gigs (Melbourne '97 is brilliant!)!

    Cheers,
    Justin

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  7. Mine is most likely the AUD as well...I always thought it was, I only changed my tune when I learned of the footage. I listed it as the AUD in my book when I listened/studied it, so it must be the case.

    Thanks for the kind words! I checked out your blog as well, very cool, going to follow it now!

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  8. I'm extremely interested in hearing this performance! Please post!

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  9. I'll put it in the queue, it'll be up soon, promise! :-)

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