February 25, 2012

Does Blur deserve all the criticism for that Brit Award performance ?

"It was a disaster, a beautiful disaster"- or was it ? 

Stumbling Damon Albarn, tangled up strings, a broken guitar strap, cutting singer Adele's speech off, messy singing, a too-fast Tender, strange sounding "Oh Oh Oh Oh"s from Girls and Boys, the "Woo Hoos" becoming a bit too primal, Phil Daniels being on stage in the, gasp, Brits ...

What have all the items on this list of descriptions, used by people, bloggers, journalists and Adele-fans, have in common ? Go on, give it your best guess.

If you've noticed the fingers-pointing and negative vibes in the exhaustive list, then well done. The feedback Blur got back from the world was rather negative. It's been three days since the Brit Awards 2012 and Blur has been hit by negative reviews and media features criticizing their performance in the award show.

Blur were already marginalized by the fact that their two best performances of that night, Tender (from 13) complete with a 32 piece gospel choir and Alex James on Cello, and This is a Low (with Damon's heartfelt, pitch perfect solo) were not shown on ITV1. They was pushed to the lesser channel ITV2.

Viewers all around the world watched Blur's arguably less impressive performances of that night (although there was raw energy, passion and they did get most lyrics correct, and Dave was smashing on the drums). All because of a broadcasting decision completely out of the band's control.

A band shot at the Brits 2012 

And Adele's speech cut off ? Again, it's a broadcasting decision, not the host James Corden's fault, nor Blurs. The media clung to Adele's middle finger like there was no other exciting event of the night. Poor bloke James, he was bashed too for being "boring" and "unfunny". So is the new trend "bash-the-brits" now ?

Some comments were simply accusatory, such as "It was Blur's fault Adele was kicked off the stage", or critical- "Blur has gone past their sell-out date". Others have said that they'd "rather watch One Direction" or Rihanna hammer out her tunes.

Speaking of boy bands - Blur were quite the lads back in 1995's Brits where they took home 4 awards and had a feud with Oasis 

Most outrageous is the title of Daily Mail's Feb 23rd article "Should we really let Blur loose on the Olympics? They sounded like drunks who had invaded the stage at the Brits" - the article that let loose the howls of Blur fans everywhere in the world and questioned Blur's capability in performing in the London Olympics 2012.

Of course, the article was strewn with the worst pictures taken of that night, at unflattering angles, of Damon's eyes half closed and mouth in the middle of singing "Parklife". Wait a minute. What about all the epic photos and band pictures, or the glorious solos from Tender and This is a Low ?

Thanks DailyMail for posting deliberately picking the most gorgeous Blur photos

The article from Daily Mail suggests that Damon should "mime", "for the sake of the world's eardrums". because apparently, Blur sounded horrible on television. The writer called Damon a "drunk" who was "yelling" instead of singing.

Damon a drunk ? He was sober alright - otherwise how'd he talk for so bloody long ?

How's that as a blow to the head for one of Britain's most influential and definitive bands of the 90s (and 2000s). How's that for the winners of Outstanding Contribution to Music award- with previous winners including David Bowie and The Kinks. How's that for a band with 20+ years of making British music and hits like "Song 2" and "Girls and Boys"?  Ouch.

The writer goes on for more Blur-bashing, and all the ya-da-das. He then admits that Blur's albums however, sounds "so good" and that the final performance of Tender was rather good". A rant on live music and more Damon-bashing follows. So in short, Blur sucked at the Brits and looked drunk and couldn't sing a tune. Yes, that sums the night up, doesn't it ?

Blur recently in NME magazine - not every band gets 10 pages of space you know 

So here's our point- but what's music, live music, without the mess, the errors and the glamourous rock n' roll mentality? We all know Adele sings perfectly, with no errors - she will not forget lyrics or hit the wrong note! And One Direction's poppy boy-band tracks are too well-rehearsed, dance choreography too in sync- are we watching automated people sing to viewers on television ?

We want to quote the MP Kerry Mccarthy, who published a feature post in pop music culture website Louder than War which counter-balances the Daily Mail's critique on Blur. It's rare we read something so accurate and describes exactly what we hear a lot of long time, devoted Blur fans say.

Adele has a flawless, powerful voice. So does Florence. So does little Ed Sheeran, in a wimpy sort of way. And Bruno Mars (also little) performed very nicely, and Olly Murs and Rihanna did the singing & dancing at the same time thing, and they did it with panache. Polished, professional, perfect, every single one of them. Not a note out of tune, not a dance step out of time. Everything went to plan. They’d all practised very hard.

Adele shows the finger at the Brits - the media has blown it out of proportions, she did not overreact in reality

Oh, and there was Coldplay. They had fireworks, and laser beams bouncing off a giant mirror ball. They “put on a good show”. It wasn’t much of a song, but at least it wasn’t one of the really annoying ones. There was Noel Gallagher too, who played it safe. I saw him do a much better version of the same song in the Jools Holland studio a few months ago; it was a real racket then, this was a bit pedestrian.

And then there was Blur, who, so we are told, were out of tune, out of time, under-rehearsed, shambolic, shabby, even ‘a disgrace’. I thought they were bloody brilliant. Maybe it was just the relief of seeing a band that sounded like a proper live band, flaws and all. I’m not a massive Blur fan by any means, and yes, the sound was pretty bad, but when Graham Coxon did his fuzzy, choppy guitar thing, and his weedy little “Oh my baby” bit on ‘Tender’ I almost wanted to cry, because in Brits land guitars aren’t meant to be distorted, and singers are meant to be able to sing. And dance down the runway, not be all hunched up over a mike stand or, like Damon Albarn, leaping around like an un-choreographed lunatic, getting all tangled up in his leads.

Have people become so accustomed, so attuned to perfection now, that anything else seems bad? Like listening to music on vinyl with hisses and scratches? Or a magazine picture that isn’t airbrushed or photoshopped to utter blandness?

The stage that night - lit and ready to roll 

It's true isn't it - however you view Blur's performances, whether you are an old fan disappointed at their performance, or whether you are sentimentally ecstatic at Blur's return, or you were screaming form the joy of seeing them back on stage since the 1995 Blur Brits takeover episode. What Mccarthy wrote about is in some ways true.

Blur has always been like that - a great stage presence and an amazing live show. Just watch some old footage and you will marvel at their raw energy and passion. Even from the Seymour days, where Blur performed a recently surfaced song "Superman" - you can see Damon bopping and jumping around just like he did at the Brits 2012.

Damon Albarn looking melancholic (or exhausted from jumping around)

Damon Albarn, in a radio show afterwards, said something about the audience of the awards that night. The audience just weren't that into the songs (although we swore many were dancing below the stage!). Generally, there was a very mixed review of the show - some good, some bad, some terrible.

Live shows are about excitement, unpredictability, energy, passion and being able to deliver an entertaining show. Blur were never the band to produce elaborate sets, or have 100 back up singers strutting around scantily clad. Nor do they don up in Lady Gaga-esque costumes or pretend to be glittery and ditzy.

Graham Coxon, guitarist of Blur, had something to say about it when he posted a comment online. He said "it was the brits...since when do we have to be slick and boring...i remember the brits 17 years ago, it was mayhem...rock n roll pandemoonium...fun...fuck em."

Click to enlarge Graham's post and read his opinion on this Brits bash 

We are not denying that music changes- of course, anything evolves and new trends emerge. Nor are we saying everyone must love Blur's performance that night - everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But Blur is amongst the good old fashioned quintessential British bands - that is if you call the 90s old. They won the award that night, and are headlining the Olympics closing concert. A huge honour, and few bands get this opportunity.

The exciting news in NME was about Blur's Olympic headliner 

When will London host another Olympics again ? Even if they do, it may not be in Blur's time.

Britain has chosen it's musical representatives - Blur, because they embody what British music has been about in the 90s and even early 2000s. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is a greatest achievement in itself - why should we continue to bash Blur about it ?

The band in 2009 where they first got together again after a hiatus 

Perhaps people who decide so easily to compare a band like Blur- who won the top award of the night with their long-term achievements- to drunkards on stage, should think about not putting their opinion out there so strongly for the sake of the world’s eyeballs .

If you want note-perfect songs, go and listen to their albums.

Written by BlurBalls, 24/2/2012 - after a touching 2 hour Blur BBC6 radio show.  

Read the original Daily Mail's article HERE
Then read MP Kerry McCarthy's rebuttal HERE

Let us know what you think by commenting on Facebook or below. Special thanks to Naomi and Patsy who sent in these thought-provoking Blur articles!


Read all about Blur kicking Adele OUT of the Brits HERE
Rehearsal for Brits HERE
Olympics Gig HERE
New potential album HERE 
and check out their newest song HERE and read our REVIEW HERE.


Stay Tuned and Get The Latest Blur News delivered straight to you- BlurBalls is the most updated Blur fan site on the internet! 

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

Also email subscribe to receive the latest news on everything Blur, Gorillaz, Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon! 

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