May 17, 2021

Would You Listen to AI-Generated Blur Music?

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In January of this year, the mental health charity, Over the Bridge, released an album called Lost Tapes of the 27 Club. As most music fans are aware, the 27 Club is that tragic group of legends – Hendrix, Cobain, Winehouse, Morrison – who died at that age, robbing the world of their mercurial talents. 

So, these lost tapes, what were they? Tracks that someone found in an attic? Reproduced songs that never made it to general release? Nope. Over the Bridge used AI (artificial intelligence) to make the tracks. It was, of course, a worthy cause for a mental health charity. But, boy, does it pose some questions for the music industry, including ethical ones. 

First, a quick overview of how it worked. Over the Bridge worked with Google’s Magenta AI. It fed the AI with samples of lyrics and music from the artists. After a while, the AI begins to learn the sound of the musicians and then produces its own versions. Producers selected the best tracks, and, hey presto, you have a new Nirvana song. 

Over the Bridge pulled off an impressive feat

You can find out more about the project here. But if we are to give our quick appraisal, it would be this: It’s impressive to hear an AI-generated song that really does sound like The Doors or Hendrix, but it is certainly not the finished article. However, you would be a fool to assume that they will not perfect this sooner rather than later. 

So, to the main question? Would you listen to an AI version of Blur? Say you really missed the Britpop, Parklife-era of Blur? Would you happily buy an AI-generated album to take you back to that cheeky and raw 90s sound of the band? For some, it might seem exciting. For others, it could be close to sacrilegious. 

But before dismissing it out of hand, it’s worth arguing that technology quickly changes our perceptions, even our ethics. In the 90s, the likes of Sean Parker (Napster) and the legendary gaming software developers like Microgaming were changing our perceptions of everything from music to gambling online. Later, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg were changing how we communicate. Today, we have the likes of Decentraland changing our perceptions of reality. 

Trends can change, and we might accept AI music

The point is that what is seen as unworkable now might seem different in 10 years’ time. Online dating used to be considered a niche thing, almost taboo, but it is so universal today that we almost forget how we felt about it a decade. Why not the same for AI-generated music?

There are, of course, many arguments that might be made. For instance, doesn’t the idea of AI regenerating artists’ music poses a problem for creativity? Bands like Blur and Radiohead, for example, are constantly pushing the boundaries, looking for a new sound. Damon Alburn moved on from Parklife, just as Thom Yorke moved on from The Bends. Most fans loved going on that journey of change with them. 

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Of course, it’s worth remembering that we are only at the beginning of this process. But you can bet that it is going to become an important debate. Similar to casting older actors with CGI (Samuel L. Jackson in Captain Marvel, for example), there is a debate over not what we gain, but what we might lose. What Over the Bridge did was interesting and impressive, but we should be wary of what comes next. 

May 15, 2021

Gorillaz x Fred Perry Clothing Line - Sneak Peek and Release Date

2021 has been a great time for e-commerce and lots of musicians have collaborated with big-name fashion brands to launch exclusive collections. This year, Gorillaz has hopped on the bandwagon. Gorillaz is collaboating with clothing brand Fred Perry to launch an exclusive collection which will be available from Thursday 20th May 2021 at 11am. 

Damon Albarn, the lead singer of Gorillaz, is rarely seen without his signature Fred Perry shirts. The iconic brand is known for their preppy polo shirts and bomber jackets, as well as quintessentially "British" looking apparel. The shop pioneered the 90's trend of high-necked polo shirts, muted colors and chic vibes. This time, the brand has partnered with Gorillaz to launch a collection inspired by the 4 characters of the virtual band. 

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The band was announced to be the new face of Fred Perry in April 2021. The new collection features bold prints, colorful polo shirts, stripey apparel, funky but retro designs and of course, their signature harrington jackets which are modelled by all four members of the band. The Fred Perry website also contains customised playlists that match the vibe of each of the clothing that the band members wore. 

Below are some of our favourites from the collection.

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Fans will be able to explore the full collection of clothing online via the band’s motorhome (its virtual and current HQ) from May 20 2021. 

If you are interested in purchasing any piece, register your interest on Fred Perry's main site HERE.  

May 11, 2021

Mid-Week Blur Mashup Vibes

It's Tuesday and here at Blurballs it's all about a bit of Blur nostalgia. We want to share a mashup that a Blur fan, Phil, created. It features an unlikely combination of tracks, but they actually fit surprisingly well together. 

On the track, Phil told us: "The credit goes to my 9 year old son for having the idea of the Doctor Who theme with Parklife and persuading me to create it. I admit, to start with I wasn’t convinced, but once I starting putting it together it all kind of fell in to place and then I added the Timelords / KLF samples to complete it. It was my follow up to the equally random – “Donald Where's Your Wellerman?” Nathan Evans / 220 KID x Billen Ted Remix - Wellerman v Andy Stewart - Donald Where's Your Troosers? Mashup which has been really popular". 

Give it a listen below! 

Doctorin' The Parklife 
  • Ron Grainer & Delia Derbyshire - Dr Who Theme v 
  • The Timelords / The KLF - Doctorin' The Tardis v 
  • Blur - Parklife

May 7, 2021

The Most Scandalous Damon Albarn Interview You'll Ever Read

Today we are taking a time machine and travelling back to 1994, where Damon Albarn gave a very scandalous and revealing interview to Loaded Magazine. The interview was re-published in 2015 to celebrate the magazine's anniversary. 

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Pork Life

Damon Albarn gives (probably) the best interview you’ll ever read – on bisexuality, cunnilingus and self-pleasure.

Bisexuality, shagging the queen, fancying Adam Ant, the wheelbarrow position, cunnilingus, losing his virginity, period sex – and eating live ladybirds.

Welcome to (probably) the best interview ever given by a musician, courtesy of Damon Albarn. The Blur frontman may have confessed last year to taking heroin.

These days it’s unlikely you’ll get Albarn, 47, to talk about much beyond his love of African music and his arthouse musicals such as Dr Dee and the recent

Thankfully, things were different when the singer sat down with Loaded in September 1994 to be interviewed for the magazine’s fifth issue.

He was 26, it was just after Blur released Parklife, and Albarn didn’t give a toss about what he said.

Some of Albarn’s answers were obviously tongue-in-cheek. A lot of his interview was about sticking his tongue in cheeks. Some of his chat was about how he used to eat live ladybirds.

Here’s the sometimes startling interview reprinted for the first time – it will make you mourn the fact media training has killed such chats.

Loaded Were you artistic as a kid?

Damon Albarn I was more autistic than artistic. I was extremely slow in learning to walk and talk. My mum took me to the doctor and he said quite solemnly, ‘I wouldn’t expect too much from Damon’, like I was backward or something. I used to get away with murder though, as I had big blue eyes and a blonde fringe. I’d be wheeled around in this pram and grannies would queue up to tweak my cheeks and say nice things about me. Throughout my childhood, I felt a bit like the kid from The Tin Drum. Not that I was a psychotic midget, but I had this amazing clarity of perception about everything that was going on around me. I suppose that was the direct result of an alternative upbringing. My dad was an environmental sculptor. In our back garden in Leytonstone we had this 20-foot pea-pod made out of fibreglass. Things like that gave me a different perspective from most kids of my age.

L As a kid did you find yourself doing odd things like staring at wardrobes hoping you could will them to move?

Nah, I didn’t spend much of my time experimenting with wardrobes. The oddest thing I did was eat ladybirds, which I did up until the age of 12. It’s just something I started to do to get attention at a young age, and I suppose I developed a taste for them. I’d swallow handfuls of the things. I’d put them on my tongue and swallow them. But there was never any chewing.

L Who was the first pop star you wanted to shag?

D The first pop star I fancied was Adam Ant, but I wouldn’t have wanted to shag him. That was never on the table, or in the bed for that matter. I never went through that latent homosexual phase. I never even thought of sticking a carrot up my bottom or anything like that. I’ve always been more of an intellectual bisexual. I wouldn’t get a hard-on looking at another bloke, but I like the idea of bisexuality. It’s just that I’m not physically capable of coming up with the goods. I’ll say this though – I’m more homosexual than Brett Anderson. Always have been. As far as bisexuality goes, I’ve had a little taste of that particular fruit, or I have been tasted you might say. But I’ve never been able to get very excited about all that. When you get down to it, you can’t beat a good pair of tits.

L What about wanking?

D I was never that experimental when it came to wanking. I never went at it with raw liver or a loaf of bread with the middle gouged out. The only wanking anecdote I have is that there was this buzz at our school about bottles of Vosene. They reckoned that, if you cut the bottle in half and slipped it over the end of your dick while lying in the bath, the suction power would bring you off. If you had a particularly small dick, you’d cut the bottle at the top. If you were more generously endowed, you’d slice it off in the middle where it started to widen out. Sadly, it never did much for me. Though it did leave me slightly chafed.

L Were you a particularly enthusiastic masturbator?

D Not really. You’d get these kids who would beat themselves off seven or eight times a day. I couldn’t understand that. Never felt the need. I was never a Guinness Book Of Records candidate in that respect. As far as I’m concerned, that kind of over-activity is the sign of a vacant mind. People who wank seven times a day have got no more between their ears than Mrs Smith who lives next door with her cats.

L Who were your teenage heroes?

Herman Hesse, Terry Hall, Suggs, Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Stewart – people like that. They were the closest I got to role models. I was never drawn to the depressed, tragic types. I liked The Smiths but I despised all Smiths fans. All my mates became vegetarians and started acting all moody and suicidal because of Morrissey. I thought that was pathetic – a load of bollocks. At that age, between 15 and 19, kids are very vulnerable. They’re leaving their family environment, finding their sexuality, trying to figure out what to do with their lives. They’re full of late-adolescent paranoia. So many bands like Joy Division, The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode and Suede consciously play on that. I had those feelings of insecurity myself, but I was never going to sit in a room listening to fucking Morrissey or fucking Robert Smith or fucking Brett fucking Anderson. It’s all a big con to me. It’s selling the audience short in the worst way imaginable. That’s why I can understand kids who are into rave music these days. They can dress up and go to clubs. They’re attractive and the dancing is very sexual. The whole attitude is very positive. It’s all so much healthier than stuff like The Cure and bands like that who I regard as a malignancy. Thank god kids these days have got someone like me to look up to.

L Were you always successful with girls?

D I must admit that I always found it incredibly easy to get off with girls. When you’re a teenager, picking up girls is a bit like getting run over by a large vehicle. You see a juggernaut approaching and you have to know when to throw yourself under it. I always seemed to know when to throw myself on the floor and get what I wanted. I always seemed to attract older girls. I was into drama and music. I used to walk around with a volume of Karl Marx under my arm. This seemed to set me apart from the Dennis Wise types that populated the Essex area where I lived. I must have seemed sophisticated, and most of the older girls saw me as this kind of romantic Byron figure. And, consequently, wanted to shag my brains out. I had few complaints about that, obviously.

L How did you lose your cherry?

D I lost it at the age of 15 in a semi-detached house at the back of my school in Stanway, Essex, to a 17-year-old girl called Jane, who was the daughter of a district nurse. I’d been going out with her for four months and, because she was the oldest, she called the shots and decided the time was right. We lay down on a very clean bed, did the business, and then I walked home and had a nice cup of tea and a fancy bun. These days, I could write a thousand songs about an experience like that. I just didn’t have any perspective on it then. I just remember walking out of her house, rubbing my hands and thinking, ‘Well, I’ve done it at last!’ The earth didn’t move. I was just relieved I didn’t fuck a virgin.

L Any other memorable sexual experiences?

D Nipping over the garden fence after a maths lesson, drinking a bottle of Baileys and having a good shag. You can’t beat a bit of sex when you’re supposed to be doing double physics. There’s a touch of anarchy about that.

L How did you feel when girls first wanted to shag you because you were famous?

D It helped a lot that I was at ease with my sexuality before I became famous. So I was never like a child let loose in a candy store. A lot of pop stars who are sexually inexperienced tend to get a bit fucked up when the whole groupie thing starts. My message to Loaded readers is to get it all out of your system before you even think about settling down and having a few kids. I’ve sown a fair few wild oats in my time and I feel all the better for it. But I wouldn’t think about settling down until I was completely spent. It quickly becomes blatantly obvious that a girl only wants you because you’re famous. It becomes the easiest thing in the world, but the sex is shit. And it does fuck all for the ego. The sex doesn’t become devalued as such, but it doesn’t give you the sense of well-being that you need. The problem is that, as soon as you become well known, you have this illusion that you’re irresistible to women. It’s a bit like walking down the street really fast and forgetting that you’re wearing roller skates – which puts you at an unfair advantage.

L How would you define the sexuality of Blur?

D The good thing about Blur is that we don’t make a virtue of the fact that we’re quite sexy. Mick Jagger is considered sexy because he announced the fact that he was sexy. I find all that quite amusing. Madonna’s the best example of that type of thing. We’re talking about a woman with miserable skin who’s considered to be the world’s greatest sex symbol. She’s living proof of the fact that there’s nothing less sexy than sex, especially when it’s being waved in your face 24 hours a day. What she does with her sexuality is like the equivalent of Super Mario Bros. It’s all a massive overstatement. I’d like to think Blur are much more subtle.

L Cunnilingus. Is it all it’s cracked up to be?

D I’m quite ambivalent about cunnilingus, though I can see that it’s an important arrow in any man’s quiver. I think its appeal has a lot to do with how many drinks you’ve had and whether a woman has washed down there recently. If you’ve had a skinful, it doesn’t matter so much that she hasn’t been near the bath of late. But I’m no expert on the subject. I mean, I don’t need a diagram to show me where the clitoris is, but I’m quite a long way from mastering the art of going down. I reckon a 65-year-old pensioner is always going to be far better at it than someone of my age. It’s a case of practice makes perfect.

L How about going down on a lass when she’s got the painters and decorators in?

D I think it largely depends on how much you’re into giving pleasure to someone else. It also depends on how heavy the flow is. If we’re talking Niagara Falls, you might want to explore other possibilities for the time being. There are advantages though to that time of the month. For a start, a woman’s tits are biggest when she’s having a period, so you might fancy concentrating on them for a bit.

L Favourite sexual positions?

 I’m up for anything, basically. The classic wheelbarrow position is always a good one to fall back on. My own particular favourite is the ‘French Maid’ position, which, for the benefit of the uninitiated, involves a fair bit of bending down and picking up imaginary feather dusters. You can’t go wrong with the French Maid in my opinion.

L Describe the kind of women who give you the horn.

D As far as celebrities go, there’s Nanette Newman who’s always worked wonders for me. Also Neneh Cherry – I think she’s very nice. I like Caribbean girls, Indian girls, African girls and Mediterranean girls. I don’t like Orientals at all. Well, I like them, but I never fancy them. I’m not a legs man or a tits man. I think that’s a terribly restrictive way of looking at a woman’s body. That’s what porn does to you. A lot of blokes have this perspective on a woman’s body which has been learned from the camera angles in porn films – the way a woman’s body is panned over and lingered on. Personally, I prefer the whole package. Porn films have never done much for me and I’ve never had much time for things like Carry On Up The Khyber. I never found the women in Carry On films remotely attractive, even Barbara Windsor. They were always too Anglo-Saxon and plump-thighed for my liking. I prefer to watch Spanish films like Golden Balls that take their time over things. If they’re going to focus on a penis or breast, they don’t rush it. That always seems more effective somehow.

L Given the chance, would you give the Queen a good seeing to?

D I have to admit that I quite fancied the young Elizabeth Regina. I’d have been happy to have given her one when she first came to the throne. Not just because she was the Queen. I just thought she was very sexy. The same goes for that Princess Margaret who seemed like a bit of a goer. They’ve both lost it a bit recently though. I don’t honestly think I’d be too tempted these days. And would I shag Prince Philip? Nah, he’s a Greek isn’t he?

L Tell us what sorts of things move you to tears.

D Stars In Their Eyes always makes me weep. Also things like Good Fortune with David Frost. That really chokes me up. Jackie Collins and Jilly Cooper films always have me in floods. See, I love crass emotion. It does me in every time and brings out these previously unknown sentiments in me. One of the most profoundly moving experiences of my entire life was watching the last scene in Planet Of The Apes when he sees the top of the Statue of Liberty. I practically had to be stretchered off after watching that.

L What do you hate with a passion?

D I don’t feel anything with a passion. I’m not a very passionate bloke. I can’t bring myself to actually believe in passion. But there are things I hate. I hate bands like Gun. I hate people who do cover versions, get to No 1 and have the audacity to go on Top Of The Pops and act like they wrote the bloody song. I’d hate a lot of showbiz types but I’m far too showbizzy myself so I can appreciate all that stuff on a kitschy level. I hate Dick Francis books but I’d probably love the film adaptations ’cos there’d be all these sexy birds running about in jodhpurs, and you can’t go far wrong with jodhpurs in my opinion. Oh, I also hate Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and anyone who’s not a Chelsea fan, except QPR fans, because they’re too inoffensive to get worked up about.

L What difference has being in Blur made to your life?

D Until Blur came along, I didn’t have a context. I was into all the wrong things. I was into Karl Marx, Bertolt Brecht and Erik Satie when cool kids were getting into The Jam and J. D. Salinger. But I’m quite grateful for the fact that I kind of did things the wrong way round. I never went to football when I was a kid. Now I’m an official Chelsea fan who gets interviewed by 90 Minutes and Shoot. A lot of kids start out with those things and get into art and literature later. But I started out reading Nabokov and now I’m into football, dog racing and Essex girls.

April 29, 2021

Alex James Says Blur May Reunite in 2021

Alex James has subtly hinted that his band Blur could perform at the Big Feastival, an annual festival held at his Cotswolds farmhouse in England. 

James is hoping all his former bandmates, Damon Albarn, Dave Rowntree, and Graham Coxon, will be in attendance at his farm for this year’s festival, and though he insisted they are “too big” a name to officially headline the event, he won’t rule out them doing “something stupid” together.

Asked if Blur could reform and perform at the event, he said: “They’re too big, really. Having said that, Damon said he might come this year, Dave is doing a DJ set and Graham will come if he’s around.

“It’s the sort of thing that could happen in the Cheese Hub. We might all stand up and do something stupid.”

James insisted he doesn’t miss being in the band any more than he yearns for other moments from his past.

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He said: “It’s just missing being young. I miss being nine years old, waiting for Father Christmas. I miss being 11, riding my bike down a hill. And being in a band does give you a second act problem.

“How old were Led Zeppelin when they wrote ‘Stairway To Heaven’? Now, if I can bring music to the farm once a year and get on stage with Nile Rodgers, I’ll be happy.”

While Alex loved being in a band when he was younger, his life on the farm has given him everything he wants at this stage in his life.

He added to The Times newspaper’s Sunday Review: “Being in a band gives you anything you could possibly want in your twenties.

“You’re travelling, boozing, shagging, making lots of noise and being rude to people.

“But then we moved here and had five kids, and now I see just as much passion in people who work with food as in people in music.”

April 26, 2021

Damon Albarn finally passes his driving test at 52

 Damon Albarn has finally passed his driving test at age 52 after not learning to drive all of his life. 

The Sun reported that Damon bought a £65,000 Range Rover as his first car. The Blur frontman, who has a fortune worth £10 million, decided to learn to drive to make it easier to get between his west London pad and his big house in the country in Devon.

His fancy new car goes from 0 to 60mph in eight seconds and has a top speed of 130mph – much speedier than most new drivers’ first set of wheels. 

Damon spent most of the UK lockdown in an isolated farmhouse in South Devon which he bought in 1995 with his “ill-gotten gains from Parklife”. 

He previously told a newspaper: “It was the first time I ever had any money and it was the first thing I ever bought. “Everyone’s been telling me I’ve been mad for years. Why did you buy this remote farmhouse in the middle of nowhere? But now everyone thinks I’m a genius.”

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He used the extra free time during the pandemic to practise for his driving test having lost his licence 20 years ago and “never bothered” to get it back.

A friend of the singer, who is now 53, told the Mail on Sunday: “Damon loved his time in Devon during lockdown and would love to spend much more time there. “But getting there on public transport would be a nightmare, so he decided to take the plunge and finally learn to drive himself around.” 

They added he had been practising his driving with his partner Suzi Winstanley,, the mother to their daughter Missy, 21.

Looks like Damon put his free time to good use! 

April 22, 2021

Gorillaz To Sell Exclusive NFTs to Fans - What's Next?

Cryptocurrencies are all in the trend right now. Bitcoin? Check. Altcoins? Going up with insane prices. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)? Well, Gorillaz has officially entered the market. 

If you've not heard about NFTs you might be wondering what exactly are these exotic new digital goods? NFTs are essentially digital property which contains a special identifier located on a blockchain. Usually, these are run on the Ethereum network, but newer altcoins such as Cardano and Polkadots have the capacity to host NFTs on them. Imagine owning a piece of digital art that is unique because no matter how much other people replicate them, you own the original piece with it's unique identifier. 

Being a virtual band, it is of no surprise that Gorillaz has recently begun to delve into the NFT space. In light of the 20th anniversary of their debut album, Gorillaz have announced a host of new products for fans to get their hands on. 

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Amongst these special anniversary merchandise and artwork is a range of art collectibles that will be made available as NFTs. The Gorillaz NFT collection is a collaboration with the company Superplastic, who the band has already worked with in the past. It is unclear where or when these NFTs will be released, but it can be assumed that they will be on sale in one of the major NFT marketplaces like Rarible or OpenSea. 

Gorillaz's decision enter into the NFT market has been criticised by some fans and websites as "hypocritical". Fans claim that the band's environmentally conscious album "Plastic Beach" advocates preserving the environment. Yet, NFTs are plagued by climate controversies and sources claim that each sale of NFTs consume extremely high amounts of electricity. 

On the other hand, cryptocurrency lovers and investors may be interested in purchasing these lucrative NFTs. Celebrities have embraced the NFT hype with fervour and artists have been making up to a few million in profits for a single sale of NFTs. Some view NFTs as a long-term investment, and who knows if Gorillaz's tokens will appreciate in value over the next ten years. One thing's for sure, NFTs are here to stay. 

One can't help wondering- what's next? Will there be a Gorillaz cryptocurrency? Who knows. 

April 18, 2021

Damon Albarn to perform in a Glastonbury Festival in May

Head's up Blur fans- Damon Albarn is set to perform on stage in Glastonbury Festival  on the 22nd May 2021 at 19:00 BST. This means that there's going to be an epic lineup featuring Coldplay, Haim, Idles, Jorja Smith, Kano, Michael Kiwanuka, Wolf Alice, and DJ Honey Dijon, as well as other talented musicians in the UK. 

The Glastonbury Festival is going to be streamed live to global audiences online, and promises to be an epic showcase of musical talent. The stream will be directed by Paul Dugdale, and will be filmed in the Worthy Farm site at landmarks including the Pyramid Field and the Stone Circle.

“After two Glastonbury cancellations, it brings us great pleasure to announce our first online livestream, which will present live music performances filmed across Worthy Farm at landmarks including the Pyramid and, for the first time ever, the Stone Circle,” festival organizer Emily Eavis said. 

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Glastonbury Festival:
Saturday, 22 May 2021 at 19:00 BST

“It will feature a rolling cast of artists and performers who have all given us enormous support by agreeing to take part in this event, showing the farm as you have never seen it. There will also be some very special guest appearances and collaborations. We are hoping this will bring a bit of Glastonbury to your homes and that for one night only people all over the world will be able to join us on this journey through the farm together.”

Glastonbury Festival has been predicted to lose out on millions of pounds this year due to ongoing cancellations caused by the global pandemic. The festival recently received a £900,000 grant as part of Government's Culture Recovery Fund. It is hoped that the live stream event will attract viewers from all over the world. 

The concert will be available only to ticket holders. The tickets are selling for £20, €23, $27.50 and AUD$35. A special festival poster for the event is also on sale, with proceeds going to Stagehand, the live-production welfare and benevolent fund, which is helping crew who have fallen through gaps in the U.K. government financial support during the coronavirus pandemic. Usually, ticket sales for Glastonbury disappears in a few hours but since this is a livestream, it seems that the tickets are uncapped. 

To buy tickets, visit THIS link. 

Visit Glastonbury Festival's official website HERE

Feeling a bit nostalgic? Check out Blur perform "Tender" at Glastonbury in 2009 during the great reunion. 

April 16, 2021

Funniest Damon Albarn Moments from the Past

With Damon Albarn celebrating his 53rd birthday in March, now's a good time to watch some funny clips of the man himself throughout his musical career. Take a look below to see the funniest Damon Albarn moments from the past! 

Warning: this video is guaranteed to make you laugh and extremely nostalgic.