How do you take a cartoon band on the road? Just like this really. You pull together music royalty (Paul Simonen and Mick Jones of The Clash), a bucketload of guest artists (Little Dragon, De La Soul, Bobby Womack) and why not throw in the members of the Syrian National Orchestra as well?
There were no holograms or singing behind screens this time. this was a full on sensory assault, led by the artistic mastery of Damon Albarn. Albarn hadn’t visited our shores for over 13 years, back when Blur turned on a treat at Monash University’s Chisholm Hall, and 13 years on he’s every bit as brilliant.
Perhaps more so.
Welcomed to the stage by the larger than life Snoop Dogg overhead, Gorillaz delved into their full array of sounds and visuals. Tomorrow Comes Today is an early highlight, followed shortly after by Dirty Harry, which turns the floor of Rod Laver Arena into a dancefloor.
Albarn tonight is thoroughly engaging, introducing the myriad of guests as they appear, talking about what it means to bring this show on tour, and really casting aside the image of the ‘virtual band’. Tonight this is real. Plastic Beach is well represented, Stylo sounds particularly great with 65 year old Grammy Award winner Bobby Womack joining the throng on stage.
The lads from De La Soul recreate Superfast Jellyfish perfectly, with Gruff Rhys‘ vocals pre-recorded. You can’t bring everyone.
Maseo then provides the instantly recognisable laugh to introduce smash hit Feelgood Inc. The show is without a lull, without a lowpoint, and simply reaffirms the musical genius of Damon Albarn. Now, if we could just twist his arm to bring Graham, Alex and Dave out to Australia again…