Blur have a new album out right? We thought so. The band that brought brit pop to the other half of Britain have returned from the peripheral to deliver a truly above average album more than a decade since their last. By all accounts it’s a strong return to form and picks up where the varied and experimentally charged Think Tank left off way back in 2003.
There’s something joyous about listening to Magic Whip, a kind of rare joy which comes with a long anticipated record living up to expectations. As the album plays through you can picture some nostalgia-drenched Blur fan burying themselves beneath the bubbling synthesizers on Ice Cream Man or a half-drunk, half-young father dancing in circles around his living room while the kids sleep upstairs.
Rewind sixteen years and Blur are jumping through the promotional hoops of their latest record 13. The album was the group’s sixth to date and their first since breaking the iron jaw of mainstream America with the floor-stomping single ‘Song 2’ (an adrenaline tipped man-anthem which continues to reverberate from sports stadiums from Manchester to Michigan to this day). It was thanks to that two minute track that the boys from London secured a slot at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, for a performance on the Letterman Show which towered over their stateside presence at the time.
Flanked by the swaying figures of the Boys Choir of Harlem and doused in electric blue spotlights Blur did what Oasis arguably never quite managed during their numerous spells on Letterman (we had to bring them up eventually, right). Damon Albarn and co came at the show not walled off by nearly a decade of frenzied commercial success, and in the process laid out a consciously soulful, towering performance. With bellowing harmonies and double bass plucks ‘Tender’ was transformed into a raucous cacophony; a wave goodbye to a decade which would live forever in nostalgic daydreams and fast-selling reissues.
Try to ignore the below-par video quality and check out the performance below.