Blur Hyde Park 2012

Any of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I am the biggest, self-confessed Blur fan in existence, which is why I was practically bouncing off the walls yesterday when I pre-ordered the Parklive Limited Edition 5-Disc Set – in other words, the concert DVD of the show I saw in August.

Upon the release of this trailer, I felt all the concert memories rushing back, so now I feel it’s an appropriate time to do a blog post about what was essentially, the best night of my life…

I can even remember when we first bought the tickets, way back in November last year. Well, I didn’t technically buy them, because I was in school on the morning of the release, but my wonderful brother (under strict instructions from me) was sitting at his desk at work, furiously refreshing the page on Ticketmaster at 9:00. Rumour has it, they sold out within 15 minutes, but my brother was lucky and I remember him texting me to tell me he’d got them, and I had a little screaming fit with my friend in class.

Anyway, after 9 months of waiting, and a two hour train journey, I was in London on the day of the concert. I met my brother and his girlfriend at the station, and then suddenly we were in Hyde Park. After an eternity of queueing and being pushed through some very over-the-top, airport-style security, we were allowed into the actual venue. At 4:00, it was already packed, and already seemed like the most sophisticated concert I’d ever been to – there were people lying on the wood chippings drinking wine! Quite the opposite from the sticky-floored, beer-throwing Manchester Apollo or Blackpool Winter Gardens.

The first support act were Bombay Bicycle Club, who were absolutely wonderful and complimented the relaxed, summer afternoon perfectly. The crowd, however, may have been a little too relaxed, as no one really danced along, and even their most upbeat songs, like “Shuffle” and “Ivy and Gold”, failed to hold the crowd’s attention. This was quite the opposite to the enthusiastic welcome they received just a week later at Leeds fest. But halfway through their set, they brought out the lovely Lucy Rose, who did gain a relatively loud cheer. I barely took any photos throughout the concert, but I did manage to get this cheeky shot of Jack Steadman on the screens:

Next up were New Order, who, I’m ashamed to admit, I didn’t know many songs by. Obviously, they aren’t the most ‘crowd-pleasing’ band, since they aren’t really performers, but the crowd seemed to get into them a bit more than with Bombay Bicycle Club, and everyone was dancing full-out for their final song, ”Love Will Tear Us Apart”” – of course I’ve heard of that one!

Then came The Specials, who were hilarious on stage, and had the whole crowd dancing for their full 45 minute set. They were wonderfully energetic and funny, playing their all their most well-known songs, such as “A Message To You Rudy”, “Too Much Too Young” and had the whole crowd chanting the legendary ”ayyeee ayyeeeee aaaaahhh”s of “Monkey Man”.

After all three support acts, the crowd were left with a long, one hour wait for Blur to come on, where the Olympics Closing Ceremony was playing on the screens to keep us entertained. Needless to say, the crowd erupted with a huge cheer whenever there was a glimpse of Mo Farah on the screen. But the crowd soon began to get restless, and chants of “WE WANT BLUR! WE WANT BLUR” began to occur increasingly frequently in the ten minutes before they came on. From our angle at the side, me and my brother’s girlfriend were convinced we could see the band setting up, which lead to excited squeals of “I can see Graham!” and “Is that ALEX?!”

By the time Blur came on, it was dark, and this made their opening lighting even more exciting. The set, a huge replica of the Westway, was amazing, and the cheer was immense as Damon shouted “ARE YOU READY?” and then launched into the intro of Girls and Boys. Everyone was dancing and singing like mad, even if we did all mess up the “girls who are boys, who like boys to be girls, who do boys like they’re girls and do girls like they’re boys” bit. The song was perfect and it was just like old times – Alex, still floppy haired (if a bit wrinkly), nonchalantly smoking a cigaratte; Graham, with his head down, looking moody; and Damon, covered in sweat, doing his signature five foot jumps!

The way Damon introduced the next song, London Loves, got one of the biggest cheers of the night – “This is a London song…AND WE LOVE LONDON!” and this was followed by a couple more songs from the ‘Parklife’ album. However, a few songs later, the crowd started to complain about the sound levels, with repeated chants of ”TURN IT UP!” (sadly, not their song ‘Turn It Up’). We were fairly close to the front, so I didn’t think the sound was a problem, but I can imagine if you were at the very back, you may have been a tad disappointed.

I can’t quite remember the full setlist, so I’m just going to talk about some of my favourite bits…  There were a few moments that made me feel a bit nostalgic, for example, when Damon changed the lyrics of End of  a Century to “and the mind gets dirty, as it gets closer to fifty“, which reminded me how old they really were. Similarly, being surrounded by about 80,000 people belting out “Tender” can’t help but make you feel a little teary and emotional.

However, there were some equally joyous moments, for example, Damon getting the whole crowd to do the Mobot, and my area forming a huge moshpit during Song 2. I had never been more thankful to be wearing my Doc Martens! Damon also bravely ventured down into the crowd at one point, and managed not to be ripped to pieces, if only due to the security guard holding onto him by the back of his belt. This provided the cameras, (filming from behind and being shown on the huge screens) with a good view of Damon’s pants!

The concert inevitably ended on “The Universal”, which lasted for about ten minutes, and on the big screens you could see Damon’s eyes welling up… All I can say is, if/when they tour again, I will most certainly be going!