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Music Review

Blur: 'Parklive' - Album review

By
Released on Monday, Dec 3 2012

Blur Parklive
After storming Hyde Park on the comeback trail in 2009, Blur returned this summer to mark the end of the London 2012 Olympics. Great band, great support, a bit of sunshine and a fantastic vibe were all present and correct. If only you could hear the bloody thing! Nearly a month after the Paul McCartney/Bruce Springsteen controversy, a park full of buzzed up fans were left wanting by what sounded like Modern Life Is Rubbish being blared out of a couple of Walkman speakers at a '90s picnic.

So, Parklive is better than actually being there. The volume's been jammed up, but the sound is otherwise untwiddled. Despite the intricate flourishes on the band's later records, it's all nicely rough and ready in the playing. This stuff still has edges. With a couple of quibbles, the setlist is spot-on. If you have to do something gloomy, 'Battery In Your Leg' would have been a better bet than 'No Distance Left To Run' - and the inexplicably-popular 'Tender' is seemingly strung out forever.

An opening barrage of four tracks from the genre-defining Parklife get us primed, before a sweep of Damon, Graham, Alex and Dave's best bits. Coxon doesn't even look too narked to join in on 'Country House', before Phil Daniels and tea lady Harry Enfield have some fun with 'Parklife'. The once-throwaway B-side 'Young & Lovely' apparently has some weighty meaning to these guys two decades on, but along with of-a-moment tracks like 'Colin Zeal' and 'Beetlebum', it sounds as fresh as ever.

'Out of Time' is improved by oud player Khyam Allami and the vibe is undiminished by Damon's Bono-ing ("I just want you to spare a thought for all those people who because of the situation in their country weren't allowed to compete in the Olympics - tell 'em you love them!")

Albarn's vocals on 'Caramel' ("Where is the magic?/ I've gotta get better"), 'This Is A Low' ("When you are alone/ It will be there with you"), 'Sing ("I can't feel / Cos I am numb") and 'End of a Century' (lyrics tweaked to "as you get closer... to 50") are dripping the sort of aching, bittersweet nostalgia and regret/hope that underlined Britpop's most tear-jerking moments.

And if swirling memories of the once-in-a-lifetime Olympics mingled with a couple of hours of London-centric hits weren't enough to get the tears flowing, the final double-header of 'For Tomorrow' and 'The Universal' header is probably enough to push anyone over the edge. To be played at maximum volume.



Watch the Blur Parklive trailer below:

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