May 23, 2013

A 20 Year Wait - Blur in Hong Kong- Gig Review

The 20 Year Wait: Blur live in Hong Kong – a Review

It was a magical night. It was a revolutionary night. It was a night of many firsts, a night of which Blur fans in Hong Kong have been waiting and dreaming for – for over 20 years.

When Blur announced that they were playing in Hong Kong on May 6th 2013, my unexpected reaction was something along the lines of: Whaaat? Blur in Hong Kong?  [long pause]. Haven’t they played in Hong Kong before? [Nope]. Oh my gosh! [insert high-pitched yell here about seeing-my-favourite-band-for-the-first-time-ever-in-history]”. I’m sure many fans in Hong Kong reacted equally as strongly, for when I logged onto Facebook an hour later, the news had already erupted everywhere on local social media and discussion forums.

Blur were a pretty big deal in Hong Kong, especially since many people in the city lived through British colonial times and were influenced by British music. Britpop was popular here back in the 90s; British music is still hip and trendy, Damon Albarn is a household name because of his best-selling Gorillaz and for writing a song called ‘Hong Kong’. I hurried online and bought tickets – freestanding, frontal, mosh-pit tickets – I couldn’t wait to re-live a 90s Blur gig and experience the hype.

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The day came, and after queuing up for hours at the Asia World Expo the crowd was finally let in. I was amongst people of all ages, most wearing Blur t-shirts and talking excitedly about Damon Albarn. I’ve never seen this many Blur fans in Hong Kong together. There were more than I thought! We all rushed in and waited – hopefully Blur won’t be late right?

Wrong. The concert began 40 minutes late, but when finally Blur rushed on stage, they were forgiven. Blur started off with a bang and jumped into ‘Girls and Boys’, which made everyone dance and jump to the beat. ‘Popscene’, another high energy hit, was next. The crowd went wild, and just as the early-punk song ended, Blur started playing the intro to one of their first singles ever- ‘There’s No Other Way’. The song made the crowd go even wilder, and everyone head banged, shoved and sweated to the beat. Damon Albarn greeted the audience after the song ended and said a few words about playing in Hong Kong, which were met with cheers.

Next came a few slower, low-fi songs from the later Blur albums. ‘Badhead’ was the highlight of the show, since it was one of my top Blur songs of all time. Damon Albarn sang the lead vocals with perfection, spilling emotion and angst, and Graham Coxon’s guitar blasted out mellow sounds. Next came the psychedelic ‘Beetlebum’, which sounded better live than in the album since on stage, the guitar and bass were turned up to the max and the music blasted all across the room.

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‘Out of Time’ and ‘Trimm Trabb’ were next – the latter was surprises as it isn’t always played live. However, Trimm Trabb was fantastic and haunting, although by this time the crowd calmed down and everyone was listening to the music rather than moving about. ‘Caramel’ was next – it wasn’t the best since it seemed to drag on live, with its million musical instruments, percussions and mix of sounds. I think it sounds better in the album or with headphones, rather than live. The sound quality was consistent throughout the gig, brining out Blur’s clear sounds.

Hit after hit followed, and slowly the audience got lost in a Blur-coma. The sounds of Blur filled the World Expo, and the night became a haze of ‘Coffee and TV’, ‘Tender’
, ‘Country House’, ‘Parklife’ (no Phil Daniels, thank goodness), ‘End of a Century’, ‘Death of a Party’ and ‘This is A Low’

Halfway through the show, Damon Albarn interrupted with a special announcement exclusively made in Hong Kong – they were “going to try to record another record” since the boys had some free time in Hong Kong next week. The crowd cheered with excitement – we were all glad to be let into Damon Albarn’s little secret – a new Blur record might possibly be recorded. 

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The show ended with lots of woo hoos and wa hoos , with Blur playing their signature ‘Song 2’. By this stage, most of the audience including myself was exhausted from the Blur concert, and we all mustered enough energy for one last bop. After all, it wouldn’t be a complete Blur show without this era-defining tune. Dave was banging on the drums with fervor. ‘Song 2’ sounded better live, and I paused to marvel at how much fun I was having dancing to Graham Coxon’s electrifying lead guitars.

A memorable moment at the end was witnessing a group of fans singing the Oasis song ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ as Blur left the stage. As if on cue, everyone gave them deathly stares. It was not funny.

I didn’t get much sleep after the Blur concert. I couldn’t, probably because deep down I knew I witnessed a historic moment in Blur’s musical history. Possibly also because I just spent the last 2.5 hours jumping up and down, getting squashed and shoving Blur fans around. Or maybe it was the adrenaline still rushing around in my body after the legendary gig.

So I got up, turned on the computer and looped Blur tunes on iTunes until the early hours of morning. It’s the only way of winding down after a Blur gig, and a great way to start off a brand new day.

Blur Setlist - Hong Kong May 6th 2013
‘Girls and Boys’
‘There’s No Other Way’
‘Out of Time’
‘Trimm Trabb’
‘Coffee and TV’
‘Country House’
‘End of a Century’
‘Death of a Party’
‘This is A Low’
‘Under the Westway’
‘For Tomorrow’
‘The Universal’
‘Song 2’ 

Went to a Blur concert in 2013? Have a picture for us to feature? Write a review for us and get published. Contact us! Blur Tour 2013 - Full dates and rundown  HERE

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