Two supports, local band Tukazon and Klaxons-esque electro-rock band The Magistrates, had kicked it off. Neither were exceptional, but neither got boring as they only had twenty minute sets. Blur came on at the early time of quarter to nine, to frenetic pogoing as the opening chords of She's So High rang out in the 5000-capacity venue. The crowd were fantastic: stadium-worthy singalongs and mass jumping ensued.
Alex James stood like a prize on the right hand side of the stage, posing coyly for photographs, flicking his hair and moving his hips. They'd all lost weight for the tour and looked at their youngest and best for years. Damon Albarn's energy was contagious; after the subdued poise of The Good, The Bad & The Queen, suits and hats aplenty, he seemed pleased and relieved to be back on a stage where he could charge around, stage dive and berate the crowd for not singing loudly enough. At one point he changed shoes because he was slipping around everywhere, to a crowd chant of "Damon! Damon!" that soon turned into a round of all the band members' names.
The setlist was vaguely chronological, with tracks from the shunned first album Leisure, the underrated second album Modern Life Is Rubbish and the famed third album Parklife played near the beginning. The first pause for breath came during Badhead, the crowd surprisingly nonchalant considering the song's delicate charm. The full setlist can be found here, two encores and all. Highlights of the night for me were Beetlebum, which was epic live, especially with that sultry bassline, Sunday Sunday with its manic second half, Parklife, which was sped up to a ridiculous tempo and punkified beyond recognition (Phil Daniels never turned up, sadly), Tender for the crowd participation, This Is A Low for the pure rapture, and of course, The Universal.
The Universal was just superb. It was the final song of the night, after Blur playing almost 2 hours, and the band buzzed with the most amazing positive vibe: they got a standing ovation on the balcony, and at the end, the whole band just stood without their instruments, grinning and lapping up the applause they fully deserved. It was fifteen years ago again, four men youthful and vibrant (despite the thinning hair and wedding rings), four kindred spirits, back together to have another go at it. Thank fuck.
I got a plectrum and Dave's signature afterwards, though teetotallers Alex James and Graham Coxon left early, and Damon rushed out, rightfully shattered after a fantastic gig. Really worth the wait, considering I never thought it would happen. I hope for a bright and Blurry future.