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May 30, 2013

Damon Albarn Interview: on Blur, his new album and Oasis

Damon Albarn was recently interviewed by music magazine Rolling Stone about Blur, his new solo album and on Oasis. The interview was conducted before Blur's performance in the music festival Coachella 2013, California USA. 


Damon Albarn is hours away from the first U.S. Blur show in years, but as he kicks back on a hotel patio overlooking a golf course near Coachella, his mind drifts to other things. Like the record he made with Bobby Womack, before the soul legend almost died last year. "He's OK," Albarn says, taking a sip of green tea. "We've actually just confirmed to play Glastonbury – he's got incredible spirit, you know?" Or his spectacular Peking-opera-inspired Monkey: Journey to the West, which is coming to New York's Lincoln Center in July after an acclaimed run in London. 
"The exciting thing about productions is they change every time," he says. "I'll have the perspective this time to actually see if it's any good." And he's definitely psyched about his first solo record, which he recently wrapped with XL Records boss Richard Russell. "Richard does the rhythmic side, and I do everything else," Albarn says. "It's sort of folk soul." 
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Albarn plans to hit the road behind the LP, playing songs drawn from his entire career, including Blur and Gorillaz, for the first time. And a new Blur LP, which the band would record between festival gigs in Europe this summer, is a definite possibility. "We've got a couple of occasions when we're stuck in the middle of nowhere," he says. "So we might make the record in a week. If we can, it would be nice."
What drives you to take on all these different projects? There's Blur; Gorillaz; the Good, the Bad and the Queen; two operas; and way more.
I get bored extremely easily. Blur was definitely my Nineties, Gorillaz was my 2000s, and then I've done a lot of different stuff this decade.
How connected do you feel to songs you wrote, at this point, decades ago?
I enjoy playing them. A lot of the songs were quite dystopian in their worldview. And a lot of that stuff is much more pressing now than it was then. It seemed like the future then, and now it just seems like every day. So I can kind of get into it.
Is there a song that you think was especially prescient?
A song like [1995's] "The Universal," which sings about, "This is the next century, where the universal's free . . . satellites in every home . . . " 
Blur is one of the biggest bands of all time in England, but the tune the band is best known for in America is "Song 2," which is pretty uncharacteristic. What's it like to have that in your pocket? The reaction to that song must be so intense.
The "woo-hoo" one, yes. Well, thank god!  It really is guaranteed to make the whole place explode. Unfortunately, it's only two minutes.
In some ways Gorillaz are a bigger band in America than Blur.
Oh much bigger, yeah. It would be nice to play "Clint Eastwood" and "Feel Good Inc." with Blur, but I can't. They won't play them with me! [Laughs] But I've just finished a solo record – when I go tour that, I'll play play stuff from all my different bands.
What's the record like?
I've been making it with [XL Records chief] Richard Russell.  We worked together on the Bobby Womack record, and really enjoy working together.  He's done spectacularly well as a music mogul, but I think he wants to focus his energy on producing records. Making a solo record is can be such a disaster, so I thought if we're going to make a record with my name on it, I should get someone to really produce it – take that responsibility away from myself. Richard does the kind of rhythmic side of it and I do everything else.
How is Bobby doing?
He's not the healthiest of guys, but he's able to do gigs and he's got incredible spirit. He doesn't let anything keep him down too long, you know? As soon as he opens his mouth and that voice comes out, he's just transported. It's such a magnificent voice.
What did you learn from that last huge, spectacular tour you did with Gorillaz in 2010?
That was the most expensive tour of all time. I had 70 musicians. I toured around the world, played massive venues all around the world. I made about 20 pounds by the end of it [laughs], so I won't be going on another of those. It was incredible fun, I loved doing it, but economically it was an absolute fucking disaster.
Tell me about the opera – the footage I saw online looked incredible.
It's very eccentric. It's colorful and youthful and fantastic for kids. I mean it's just a brilliant thing for kids. My daughter was inspired enough by it to start learning Mandarin after she watched it. And it's got this wonderful sort of anti-hero monkey who's just so irreverent and almost . . . amoral [laughs].  Kids love a character like that.
What kind of research went into it?
I had four very interesting journeys across China. Like two weeks at a time. We were taken to some very rural, untouched places far away from the crazy commercial growth aspect of China. Back to places that felt positively medieval. I listened to a lot of traditional music, too.  One day I had lunch with a music professor in Beijing and I quite earnestly sat down with him and said, "So what advice can you give me as to how to approach this?"  And he took me into this library and there were like 1000 books of Chinese folk music notated and said, "Well, you either do it that way or just . . . do it instinctively." So I went for the latter.
The Stone Roses are also playing tonight. Are they friends?
We're not friends, but I know them. We Brits always stick together. And all of the animosity of the Nineties is gone. I mean, I was playing "Tender" with Noel [Gallagher] at the Albert Hall two weeks ago, with Paul Weller on the drums. It's all in the past now.
(Source: The Rolling Stone) 

Blur Tour 2013 - Full dates and rundown  HERE
Blur @ Coachella- video and image gallery HERE 
Damon Albarn- "We are going to try to record a new album" HERE
Blur Europe Tour News  HERE
Order the new Blur: Parklife (Live at Hyde Park CD / DVD) HERE

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May 26, 2013

Blur will perform in Uruguay, Montevideo in November 2013

Blur have added a new tour location and this time they will be playing in Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay this year as part of the Spring Festival as part of their worldwide 2013 tour. Blur have announced several new South American tour dates recently, including landmark gigs in Argentina, Chile and Brazil.

Blur are scheduled to perform at the Summer Theater on November 4th 2013 in the third festival Primavera Zero, one of the biggest music festivals in Uruguay. The band is one of the most anticipated and wanted musical acts in the festival this year, largely due to the high demand for Blur to appear in pop and rock festivals from all over the globe.

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The news was first tweeted by Uruguay's PopArt Director Danilo Astori Sueiro through his Twitter account one day ago, and soon made headlines on the local twitter trends page. Local media have already caught up on the buzz, and many fans in South America expressed their delight at the news of Blur's first debut in Uruguay.

This year, Blur have headlined prestigious music festivals such as Coachella in the U.S. and Primavera Sound in Spain. The latter festival is one of the South American venues selected for the tour.

It looks as if Blur will not stop touring until late this year, and will continue their tour in different cities around the world on a mission to reconnect with old and new fans alike. Followers of the band - stay tuned as new dates have been continuously added to the Blur world tour 2013 (see full list of dates).

Read a source article in Spanish HERE 

Blur Tour 2013 - Full dates and rundown  HERE
Blur @ Coachella- video and image gallery HERE 
Damon Albarn- "We are going to try to record a new album" HERE
Blur Europe Tour News  HERE
Order the new Blur: Parklife (Live at Hyde Park CD / DVD) HERE

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Blur tocará en Uruguay en Montevideo en 4 de noviembre

La banda londinense Blur tocará en Montevideo el 4 de noviembre, en el marco del festival Primavera 0. El anuncio fue realizado por Danilo Astori Sueiro a través de su cuenta de Twitter sobre la medianoche de ayer.

Blur, ícono y semilla germinal del britpop, lleva casi 25 años de existencia, a través de los cuales editó siete discos de estudio entre los que destacan Parklife (1994) y Modern life is rubbish (1993).

Fue siempre relacionada (y enfrentada en los medios) con el grupo Oasis por el momento en que ambas bandas surgieron y lo que significaron para la música británica de los 90. Si bien la agrupación de los hermanos Gallagher logró antes una popularidad masiva fuera de Europa gracias a su disco (What’s the story) Morning glory? (1994), nunca logró opacar a nivel musical a la agrupación de Damon Albarn y Graham Coxon, más afin a la exploración de distintos estilos y géneros.

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De ahí la importancia de la visita de Blur a Montevideo, en el marco de una de las giras más solicitadas del año musical en lo que a pop y rock refiere. Han sido cabeza de festivales multitudinarios y prestigiosos como Coachella en Estados Unidos, o Primavera Sound en España y están entre las bandas más reclamadas por los fanáticos del circuito sudamericano.

Si los festivales son el marco habitual para el rock de estos tiempos, Blur es este año la pieza a tener, a sabiendas de que no hay garantías reales de que estos cuatro amigos londinenses, reconciliados tras una desgastante separación en 2001, sigan tocando juntos en el futuro cercano. La visita de Blur para el 4 de noviembre fue confirmada a El Observador por el productor Danilo Astori Sueiro.

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La banda local telonera será Sonia y las entradas estarán a la venta el 15 de junio en locales de Red UTS, con precios que rondarán los $ 1.300 y los $ 2.000. Habrá una segunda fecha del festival con otro artista internacional a confirmar en los próximos días. Tras la biografía de Blur hay muchas canciones que pasan por géneros dispares y a veces opuestos, como el noise y el pop más bailable y radial.

Todo de parte de una inquieta banda que siempre, con mayor o menor éxito, intentó encontrarle la vuelta a su música más allá de las zonas de confort y de esa guerra comercial en la que cayeron sin darse demasiada cuenta y que le agregó picante a esa época musical.

La banda creadora de hits como “Song 2” y “Girls and boys”, que se reunió en 2009, luego de haberse separado tras editar su disco Think tank (2003), llegará a Uruguay en medio de su gira mundial.

Source: El Observador 


Blur Tour 2013 - Full dates and rundown  HERE
Blur @ Coachella- video and image gallery HERE 
Damon Albarn- "We are going to try to record a new album" HERE
Blur Europe Tour News  HERE
Order the new Blur: Parklife (Live at Hyde Park CD / DVD) HERE

SUBSCRIBE NOW!

If you missed old news, visit the NEWS ARCHIVE to read about past news!

Remember to subscribe to RSS and "LIKE" BlurBalls on Facebook


May 23, 2013

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


The 20 Year Wait: Blur live in Hong Kong – a Review
Written by Florence Lee

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’
‘Popscene’
‘There’s No Other Way’
‘Badhead’
‘Beetlebum’
‘Out of Time’
‘Trimm Trabb’
‘Caramel’
‘Coffee and TV’
‘Tender’
‘Country House’
‘Parklife’
‘End of a Century’
‘Death of a Party’
‘This is A Low’
ENCORE: 
‘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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May 19, 2013

The Much-Anticipated Performance- Review: Blur live in Indonesia

The Much-Anticipated Performance: A Big Sound Festival 2013 Review
Written by Anisa Menur Maulani 

Exactly a year ago, my friend Cinita and I were sitting on the floor of my living room, watching the No Distance Left To Run DVD on a lazy Sunday. Look at all those happy faces, we said. They got to see the Blur gentlemen live, standing only a few meters away from them. When are we going to have the chance to do that?

Funnily enough, the answer came in February 2013, when entertainment and MICE giant Dyandra Entertinment and music promoter Sound Rhythm announced that Blur will headline the Big Sound Festival 2013 on May 15th 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Days seem to be fleeting, as we got closer to the night when our dream comes true. We have applied for a leave at work, and find ourselves unable to concentrate at anything. Then it finally happened. Twitter exploded with the news that the gentlemen had arrived, and there were photos swarming around of Damon smoking at the airport, Graham and Dave talking to their fans, and Alex doing a door-stop interview with the press.

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May 15th finally arrived and we were finally queuing in line in front of Lapangan D Senayan, where the concert will be held. Noted that Blur was not the only one performing at the event; their show was preceded by Van-She, Tegan and Sara, and The Temper Trap.

I could not speak much of Van-She’s performance, as I am not into their kind of music and thus was not interested in seeing them. But was Tegan and Sara and The Temper Trap were great; their songs were enjoyable, and the audiences seemed to be having a good time listening to them. These are the bands that are worthy of opening up an act as legendary as Blur, and the emotions that they built reached its peak just when the main show is about to begin.

My, how my hands shook and my stomach turned when they darkened the lights on stage and played Theme For Retro.

Then people began to scream “They were on the right side of the stage!”, and shadows moved onto the stage. Last thing we know, people were pushing themselves into front of the stage, and Girls and Boys was heard, closely followed by Popscene.

The atmosphere was crazy. Everyone was screaming; even guys in their twenties screamed like junior high school girls. We were dancing and jumping madly, and smartphones are all up in the air, because no one would want to miss anything.


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The situation calmed down a bit with Out of Time, only to then explode again as Damon jumped down from the stage during Country House. He ran up along the fence, greeting the maddening fans. He ended up perched on one corner as audiences grabbed his hands, trying to get a touch of the charismatic frontman (Someone was lucky enough to have his/her hat being taken by him). He also managed to shower us with water whenever he got close to the audience.

The encore started with their new single Under The Westway, which was my personal favourite that night. The encore was filled with mid-tempo songs like For Tomorrow and The Universal, and some people felt that show was much too short. Adding one or two more songs perhaps will be appropriate.

There were also complaints on the sound system, as there is a moment when Graham seemed to be struggling with his guitar. At some point during Parklife I was not able to hear any sound of the guitar; but thankfully it was only a minor glitch that did not hamper the whole show.



The Blur gentlemen did not talk much. Damon greeted us a couple of times, but there were not many things that he said. However, I find that “Tonight, you inspired me” was the most touching thing he said during the night. It feels great if he was able to feel our excitement for having waited to see them for up to 20 years. 


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The show ended with the much-anticipated Song 2, which I believe was the soundtrack of everyone who lived through the 1990s. We jumped, we head-banged, we scream, we cried. The guys left the stage but we knew that we would keep this moment in our heart for as long as we lived.

It is wonderful to finally being given the chance to see Blur performing in your home country, and I congratulate Chile for being the latest addition in their tour!

Anisa Menur Maulani 
(@animenur on Twitter)
Images by Fariz Adnan 
(@andstage on Flickr)
May 15th 2013  

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


May 18, 2013

Blur to debut in Chile for World Tour 2013 - New Tour Date announced

Santiago, Chile is officially the latest addition to Blur's list of venues for their 2013 world tour [click for the full list of Blur tour dates].

Blur fans in Chile will finally have the chance to see their favorite band perform for the first time after all the years of waiting. The gig is scheduled just four days after their gig in Argentina and will be held on November 7th 2013 in the National Stadium Athletic Track in Santiago.

The announcement for a Blur concert in Chile was made less than a day ago on a music site as a move to kickstart an advertising and promotional campaign for the show.

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The wait is finally over for thousands of fans in South America, many of whom eagerly awaited this special confirmation. Many online campaigns petitioning for Blur to come to North America, such as the "Blur Tour North and South America" fanpage, have surfaced since Blur's reformation in 2009. Fans in Chile have been anticipating for a Blur concert since the band cancelled a gig in the country 14 years ago during 1999, where Blur toured the world to promote their album '13'.

Blur had a debut concert in Chile scheduled for November 25, 1999 , and the fans eagerly awaited the show at the Estadio Monumental. However, the band decided to cancel the show just weeks before the concert, citing political reasons and differences- including a mention of Chilean authoritarian dictator General Augusto Pinochet's arrest a month earlier in a London hospital.

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A Blur gig long overdue 

Due to Augusto Pinochet's timely arrest, the local British Embassy warned bands and musicians scheduled on tour for Chile to cancel their shows. Blur's management decided to forgo Chile, leaving thousands of fans disappointed, and continue their '13' tour in Latin America by playing in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

14 years later, Blur are finally going to 'debut' in Chile on November 7th at one of Chile's biggest stadiums. With the announcement of plans for new Blur recordings [watch the video of Damon Albarn's surprise announcement] and the possible new dates for Blur's massive world tour, perhaps this year will end on an all-time high note, for both the band and the fans.

Ticketing Information - Blur live in Santiago, Chile 2013

Tickets go on sale this Sunday, May 19th, available through the Puntoticket system, shops Ripley, Cinemark, the Call Center 600 462 6000 and www.puntoticket.com. Prices ranging from 22,000 to 95,000 pesos (includes a 20% discount).

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Follow BlurChile on Twitter and stay tuned for more updates and the latest Blur news.


Blur Tour 2013 - Full dates and rundown  HERE
Blur @ Coachella- video and image gallery HERE 
Damon Albarn- "We are going to try to record a new album" HERE
Blur Europe Tour News  HERE
Order the new Blur: Parklife (Live at Hyde Park CD / DVD) HERE

SUBSCRIBE NOW!

If you missed old news, visit the NEWS ARCHIVE to read about past news!

Remember to subscribe to RSS and "LIKE" BlurBalls on Facebook


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