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Gorillaz – My Gigging Year

January 4, 2011
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Ho-ly Sheeet. That was all that my usually highly eloquent internal monologue could muster after a huge projected version of Snoop Dogg had finished welcoming me to the world of the plastic beach. And what a world it was: the synthesised horn part from the album that had previously made a good impression on me was now being well and truly shat on by their live counterpart. Never before had a brass section sounded so epic to me. It really doesn’t matter how much you listen to their albums or hear about how amazing these guys are live, nothing can prepare you for the beast that is a Gorrilaz show…

I bought these tickets in March on the back of the Gorillaz’ excellent reputation as a unique live act. That reputation took a bit of a beating after their Glastonbury performance, however. I missed their set as I watched The Flaming Lips instead, which turned out to be a good call. The feedback at Glasto from those who saw the Gorillaz was terrible. Since the only reason I wanted to see them was for their awesome live reputation (I had liked their albums on a surface level but had never really gotten into them) the bad mojo that came post-Glasto made me regret my very expensive purchase, so I decided to flog them. Long story short: I didn’t sell the tickets and I ended up going, somewhat grudgingly.

In football there is a phrase that goes: form is temporary, class is permanent. This seems to hold true for the Gorillaz – their poor Glastonbury showing the exception that proves the rule, and when I saw them they were truly amazing. Back on form, apparently, and on this evidence I would happily add my voice to the legions who bang on about how good they are live. From start to finish, performer after performer (and there were a lot of them) it was all top class stuff. When you have such a large ensemble cast, it must be easy for a musician to get lot amongst all the action, especially with the huge projections grabbing your attention like nothing else can at a music gig, but huge credit must go to the people behind the scenes who kept all the disparate parts working together in perfect harmony. I could hear all the elements so clearly; the bass, the string quartet, the Syrian mini-orchestra, the myriad singers / rappers… it was probably the best job I’ve ever heard a sound guy do. In all probability it was a team of sound engineers doing the work, but still, so impressive, especially when I think of the number of good performances I have seen this year that were let down by poor sound reproduction.

 

This home-brew snap really doesn't do them justice

It actually turned out that I was less familiar with their 3 albums than I had thought before the gig, but it mattered little. Gorillaz often got the grooves so right that it was nigh on impossible not to do the most extreme version of the indie gig shuffle (you know, that step before actually dancing). For me, no one performer stole the show, and the revolving door nature of their set meant that I was never bored, something which happens to me all too often at a lot of gigs (perhaps those too old to have ever been branded ADD would find it too stimulating, distracting even, but anyone who says that shouldn’t be going to a gig like this – go do some gardening or something). Even the huge projector was a willing part of the team, doing its best to assist the performers without overshadowing them. In reality, it is quite difficult to describe just how good the Gorillaz are live (and in particular the video work) because there is so little to compare them to – other ensemble acts such as Broken Social Scene don’t even hold a candle to the way Gorillaz go about their business, and I have yet to go to another gig with such amazing visuals.

The only negative thing I could say about their show was the sizeable hole it left in my wallet – there’s no getting away from it, going to see the Gorrilaz is expensive. But when you consider how captivating they are, how many people are involved that have to get paid, and the fact that this could very well end up being a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the whole thing ends up seeming very good value.

P.S – I’ve listened to Plastic Beach a couple of times after the gig, and thought that the songs sounded a lot better live. Srsly.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Robbie Bizzle permalink
    January 9, 2011 11:35 am

    Whenever you say “srsly”, this song comes in to my head, particularily the part where he says “splendiferously”. Don’t know why. Perhaps you can learn some new adjectives to unvowlerise from Dizzee :p

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