The Caesar of pop Damon Albarn staged his own ape uprising last night at the O2.
Gorillaz by Gorillaz was the first album I ever owned, after my dad bought it at Our Price or possibly Woolworths. This was music specifically designed by Blur’s Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett to show kids the genre-busting potential of pop music, and while the virtual band has evolved considerably since 2001 (including the way the characters dress), that eclecticism is alive and well. In the blink of an eye the Ape-Team took us from a rock concert to a rave, via a barrel full of hip-hop.
It’s ironic that a band who don’t really exist would be so great live, but thanks to their full-bodied sound, visually a-peal-ing music video backdrops and a long chain of interlocking guest performers, this was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. Guests included De La Soul, Noel Gallagher and Mos Def – and behind him, the Stylo video which sees Bruce Willis outrun and outacted by cartoon characters.
In the mi(d)st of all this is Albarn and his remarkable ear for disparate musical elements that oughtn’t work on paper but always do in execution. The setlist swung from hit to hit, showcasing Albarn’s ability to craft music that can be sweepingly pretty, incredibly heavy and impossibly sad. Gorillaz are everything pop music should be – ie. everything.