To say that Blur, through no fault of their own, experienced a rocky start to their headlining medley, would be a major understatement. Mere moments before they took to the stage to kick off with “Girls & Boys,” boos seemed to rain down, as Adele’s acceptance speech for winning Best British Album was shockingly cut short to allow Blur their moment (and presumably to ensure that the network broadcasting the event hits the national news on time).
But if anyone could salvage such mutinous scenes, it’s Blur, who know a thing or two about putting on a live show. The band sounded so vital and fresh-faced, it was hard to believe that they first appeared at the Brits back in 1995. But while “Girls & Boys” was a solid start (though you can’t help but wonder whether lead singer Damon Albarn’s exclamation of “Oh God” is a reference to the magnitude of the occasion or that he inadvertently cut short Adele), we got true liftoff with “Song 2,” the track which oh so nearly broke them in America. The “Woo-ho, well I feel heavy metal!” refrain was surely screamed louder than Albarn has ever yelled it before. “Parklife” sounded slightly rushed, so much so that at one point, Albarn stopped singing and simply jumped up and down. But the set (lest we forget, the longest show-closer in the history of the Brits) ended on an undoubted high. Backed by a a 32-piece gospel choir, “Tender” (to this listener’s ears, their finest ever song) provided a mellow tone to the proceedings and the epic “This Is A Low” rounded out the night.