SO.CO Team

8 months ago

Live: Blur present The Ballad Of Darren live in London

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On the very stage where David Bowie killed off his Ziggy Stardust alter-ego 50 years ago this month, Blur arrived to birth their new incarnation, presenting a full album playthrough of acclaimed new long-player The Ballad Of Darren, plus a few surprises to keep the diehard fans happy.

Blur @ Eventim Apollo, London

Blur @ Eventim Apollo, London

It turns out that the Bowie comparison is rather apt. If there’s a contemporary equivalent for the chameleonic Thin White Duke, then it may just be Damon Albarn. From the grunge-rock of Popscene and Song 2, through the Britpop stylings of Parklife and Country House, to his melancholic solo work, and of course the creative explosion of Gorillaz, he’s not a man to stick around one genre for too long. Tonight, though, we get none of that. Tonight we’re celebrating The Ballad Of Darren, Blur’s warmly received new album, and yet another reinvention for one of Britain’s national treasures. 

Blur @ Eventim Apollo, London

Blur @ Eventim Apollo, London

Shortly after 9pm, the live-stream cameras kick into life, and the band take to the huge Apollo stage. Albarn’s exuberance countered by Alex James’s laconic bass-playing, performed whilst lounging on a leather sofa that’s clearly been appropriated from the dressing room. The band are on rich form as they roll through the new album in order, starting with The Ballad, and closing with The Heights. Highlights, are as on the album, the Graham Coxon fuelled guitar freakout of St. Charles Square, and a beautiful take on Avalon, which already feels like a fan favourite. 

Blur @ Eventim Apollo, London

Blur @ Eventim Apollo, London

Tonight’s gold-dust like tickets were a reward for those fans who took a punt on pre-ordering the new album, so once the main set was complete, it was no real surprise that the band eschewed the hits, and gifted the 5000 diehards in attendance with an encore of deep cuts and rare outings. Pyongyang, from the criminally underrated The Magic Whip, received its first play since 2015, Parklife’s Clover Over Dover got only its second ever live airing, whilst All Your Life and Theme From An Imaginary Film were played live for the very first time. When b-sides are received like number-one singles, you know you’re doing something right! 

Blur @ Eventim Apollo, London

Blur @ Eventim Apollo, London

Setlist:

The Ballad

St. Charles Square

Barbaric

Russian Strings

The Everglades (For Leonard)

The Narcissist

Goodbye Albert

Far Away Island

Avalon

The Heights

Pyongyang

Clover Over Dover

Mr Briggs

All Your Life

Theme From An Imaginary Film

The Universal

Blur @ Eventim Apollo, London

Blur @ Eventim Apollo, London

Words and photos: Thomas Jackson