Thinking outside the box
From caterwauling megaphone-touting indie kids to national treasures, taking in the Britpop wars, Parklife, Song 2, 13 and everything in between, Blur have refused to fade away. Now, to mark the release of 21: The Box and a little gig at the London Olympics, it is time to reassess. Jake Kennedy places Graham Coxon, Alex James, producer Stephen Street and leading Blurologist Martin Hayward in the think tank
It is May 1993. Blur’s first UK tour to promote the imminent release of their second album Modern Life Is Rubbish has stopped off at Northampton’s unglamorous Roadmender venue. The main hall’s capacity of 800 is not threatened, and there’s ample room at the rear in which to throw shapes for anyone expecting Leisure’s “baggy” hits.
But Blur have changed. The stage is decorated with lamps, chairs, kitchen paraphernalia and curtains. At the centre a small colour TV is turned on 10 minutes before stage time. A distorted 9 O’Clock News blares from the box as the crowd watch, patience tested.
“I didn’t pay £7.50 to watch the fucking news!” someone bellows, just before the suited, Doc Marten-wearing foursome take to the stage, resting their beers on amps and drum risers. That heckle is soon forgotten as Blur pound into the relentless drive of a new song, Advert, with Graham Coxon scissoring his Telecaster and Damon Albarn diving straight into the audience, something he repeats throughout the evening.
Advert was the second track on an album that signalled a sophisticated right turn from the scenester pop of Blur’s debut, Leisure. They’d been through the mill in America in a desperate attempt to recoup funds. But the band had fallen into fighting on tour and they returned home …
by Jake Kennedy
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