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Blur Reforming – So Tonight I’m Going To Party Like It’s 1995

Much celebration amongst Indie Kids of a certain age at the news that the nation’s favourite gor blimey cheeky cockernee popsters Blur are going to put aside their differences and re-form for, initially, a one-off show next summer. Smart money also sees them as the early favourites to headline Glastonbury next summer.

It’s easy now, from this distance, to forget just how good Blur were back in the day. Yes, they headed up their own arse at an alarming rate towards the end of their career – ’13’ and ‘Think Tank are, frankly, not much cop – but they were responsible for Britain’s response to grunge’s monochrome hegemony (1992’s ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’, a stomp through an imagined Mod world of their own creation, was as British as Billy Bragg and crucial in diverting attention away from plaid and back to the legacy of The Beatles, the Who, the Kinks and Nick Drake.)

And, although it became a cliché due to its ubiquity, ‘Parklife’ is one of the Great British Albums. Go back and listen to it again – its scope and ambition are startling, encompassing pop, rock, folk and even oompah. The much chronicled Britpop era saw the slightly narcissistic ‘The Great Escape’, which reflected the confidence of the scene and was slightly too arch, but still contained – in ‘The Universal’ – their greatest song, resembling nothing more than a sincere (and therefore fake) Anthony Newley. The next, eponymous album was a scattergun affair, but in ‘Song 2’ and ‘You’re So Great’ showed a band equally as comfortable with their old punk records as they were with their old Ray Davies ones.

Escaping the fate of their old rivals Oasis by withdrawing inwards rather than bombastically charging forward, there is a lot of fondness for them out there, witnessed by the brisk ticket sales. It will be interesting to see where they take it. Both Coxon and Albarn have shown innovation in their post-band work, and if being in the band again stops Alex James popping up on my TV every seven minutes in his new slightly eccentric Country Gent guise, then it is fundamentally a good thing. there was a sense with Blur that they’d run out of steam rather than time when they split up; now we can see whether that is the case.

Also talk of The Stone Roses being back next year; I’m investing in Global Hypercolour t-shirts early.

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17 Responses

  1. The Roses were an awful live band though, even before John Squire left. By God, they were dull.

    And has Alex James done too much to really enjoy seeing him onstage again? I’m not sure. His latest turn on T4 should have him damned for all eternity.

    And Blur playing the old hits? 40 somethings leaping around to Popscene? Doesn’t sound too good. I’d rather have a new album. Contrary to your wrong opinion expressed above, 13 and Think Tank were masterful albums.

  2. 13 is okay but Think tank is just self-indulgent wank.

    I think you’ve missed my point on a couple of things though Wally – ! agree with you about Alex James – anything which stops him popping up on UK Food talking about fucking cheese is okay by me.

    Also, I’d like to hear what Blur would do rather than just play the hits. That’s what I meant by “Blur that they’d run out of steam rather than time when they split up; now we can see whether that is the case.” I never frelt they’d taken it as far as they could, I thought they had all just grown a bit sick of it.

    As for the Roses, I’d go. They’d still be gish live, but still.

  3. Yeah, but has Alex James gone too far? Can he strap on his bass and expect to exude any dignity? Should he be allowed to even try? Should he be exiled for his crimes and replaced by a goateed session musician? Should he be erased from all history? There’s a case for it.

    Honestly, I saw Brown honking out the hits like a dying swan sometime around Second Coming and it was wretched. I heard that John Leckie had to get him to practially whisper in studio to get him to stay in tune.

    But you are wrong about Think Tank – it lacks the Coxon guitar magic, but there are some ace moments. Indulgent? It’s totally lean and restrained as I recall.

  4. Each to their own, but I think we are coming on different trains to the same party!

    Much as I love the Roses – well, the first album and ‘Turns Into Stone’ – that reunion is purely for the benefit of the bank manager.

    And I couldn’t agree with you more about James – he lost his right to being human when he participated in Fat Les, a c£nt’s collective if ever there was one.

  5. I can’t say I am excited about either of these come backs.

    Never liked either band and can honestly say The Stones Roses were one of the worst live bands I have seen, albeit it was ‘Second Coming’ tour.

    Maybe it’s an age thing but there was no music at that period I needed rescued from by mockney music hall.

  6. Well Bertrand, we don’t expect every reader to get excited about everything we write about here at ELM! Blur certainly had their Mockney Music Hall leanings, which were wilful and annoying, but every great band has their pretensions.

    I won’t be queing for a ticket for their shows, but unlike a lot of reformed bands of the last few years, I am reasonably interested in what they do in the future.

  7. I am not suggesting that you tailor your articles to meet our expectations!

    I guess I’ve never been a fan of British music of the ‘next in line to the throne of The Beatles’ variety.

  8. Not even the Quo?!

  9. I will def go and see Blur if they play in Scotland. Whilst i was never a massive fan i always liked them, including 13. I missed seeing them live first time around so would be interested to see what they do, besides a bit of cockey never bothered me!

    Plus, most importantly, Damon is still top totty of the toppest totty variety 🙂
    Case rested methinks

  10. i wish i got to go on TV talking about cheese.Then again he’s a frequent wearer of a cardigan, which is not to be encouraged.

    i’m off to have some cheese now in fact.

  11. Sounds fair enough to me Adrian!

    “13” is okay – it has Coffee and TV on it – but just didn’t get Think Tank.

    Still, myself and the Wookie are two of the few who liked pre-Britpop Blur, so if they do ‘Fool’ or ‘Sing’, that’ll please us!

  12. To impertinently stick my two pence in, I’d pick “13” over the rest of their back catalogue. ‘No Distance Left to Run’ is an absolute heartbreaker. Yes, I did just say that…

    I can’t remember if lots of these reunions happened in the 90s. Did 80s bands constantly reform in order to add another million to the retirement fund?

    Call me miserable, but it all seems a bit hollow if they don’t actually write anything new…

  13. Sir, your two pence is not impertinent, tis very welcome!

    You are right – I do not recall a Nick Heyward tour in the 90’s….

    The reformation tour is as noughties a thing as illegal war and a fucked up banking system!

  14. Let’s double it to four pence then!

    I had the good fortune to interview Frank Black just after all the Pixies reunion shows. He was quite upfront about their motivation: coining it in. It was pretty refreshing compared to the usual ‘the time was right, y’know, we just wanted to get into a studio and rediscover our magical connection’ waffle.

    What will the next decade hold? Hopefully robots. Robots playing Kaiser Chiefs songs in the joyless manner they deserve.

  15. What stunned me was Shed Seven not only making a comeback, but making a successful comeback. I mean, they were pretty dull first time around and died of disinterest…so why does ten years passing make them suddenly wonderful?

    This is the decade of the rose tinted spectacle.

  16. Maybe there’s more of an appetite for their brand of bland indie now most second-rate British guitar bands sound like The Libertines. A change is as good as a rest and all that…

    I’m looking forward to seeing Benga and Spaceape getting back together once more time on the dubstep reunion tour of 2018. It’ll be bruff.

  17. True, I dare say the likes of Northern Uproar must look at the likes of The Enemy and think ‘that could have been us’.

    We should go the whole hog on reunions; the band and audience should dress the way they did back in the day and bar prices should reflect the age. Which means Gerry and the Pacemakers gigs would be really popular, though no-one would see them as they’d be in the bar getting eight pints for a groat.

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