Morning glory returns in a blurry fashion
The Warehouse, Toronto
After unofficially losing the now infamous war with Oasis for the title of England's biggest band, Blur retreated to Iceland and recorded its most eclectic and organic album to date. This album, simply titled Blur, was earmarked as a new musical beginning for the band. It seemed to forego the typical British sound for more of a U.S. indie rock ethic and as a result, there was speculation that Americans might find it more accessible than past efforts.
Thursday night's concert at The Warehouse in Toronto was one of a handful of North American shows accompanying the release of this new LP. One thing was certain if Blur had consciously made a decision to appeal to a broader North American audience, this would be the tour to begin such a quest.
After opening with "Beetlebum" and "Song 2," Blur sped up the tempo with a frenetic rendition of the only major U.S. hit, "Girls & Boys." The rest of the band's set was comprised mainly of newer material and older favourites, with a few surprises scattered liberally along the way. The addition of older, punkier songs like "Advert" and "Colin Zeal" fit well with Blur's newer compositions, and early, ethereal gems like "Inertia" and "Sing" translated well in the live atmosphere.
While the musicianship and performances were tight, the band seemed decidedly uninterested. Aside from frontman Damon Albarn's sporadic busts of energy, Blur looked bored and somewhat lethargic. Barely managing to utter anything other than the occasional "thank you" between songs, the disinterested quartet failed to establish any sort of relationship with the audience. As a result, any enthusiasm displayed by the crowd was due to the sheer quality of the performance and not because of the band's charisma or showmanship.
It seems that if Blur is indeed trying to break America, it plans to do so mainly by paying no attention to stage presence, acting cold and unfriendly and playing incredibly good songs.
Hey. . . it worked for Oasis.