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:
Country Sad Ballad Man
To the End
Look Inside America
This is a Low
Death of a Party
No Distance Left to Run
On Your Own
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.