blur & Courtney Barnett – New York

Damon Albarn sings to the crowd at Madison Square Garden

The first time I saw blur play live was on Sunday January 26th 1997, at Rock City in Nottingham supported by the Sneaker Pimps. This time I was going to see them play at Madison Square Garden, New York, the day before my birthday and being supported by Courtney Barnett, how cool is that.

I wandered over to Madison Square Garden from the hotel with what I thought was time to spare, However due to the levels of security the Americans have in place at such events it meant I missed the first couple of songs from Courtney whilst queuing to be scanned and searched.

I finally got in and found myself a space at the front and to the left of the stage, Courtney was enthusiastically belting out some of her tunes. There wasn’t too many people in at that point which I felt was a bit of a shame, but then again she’s not as big on their radar, yet…

Eventually the place started to fill up, Courtney finished a short but powerful set and the interval music came on. I got chatting to a guy at the side of me who offered advice on how to maximize my personal space by sticking my elbows out and a woman from the UK who had extended her work trip to make the most of New York and of course catch blur.

The wait felt like it was a lot longer than it probably was but eventually the lights dimmed, the music changed and blur came on to a massive cheer from a now packed arena.

Damon was full of aggro, jumping about and taunting the crowd, throwing bottles of water and psyching himself up as much as the crowd.

The music kicked off and Damon made full use of the stage allowing me to get some great close up shots with my small travel camera.

Most of the set came from their back catalog, which suited me fine. Graham Coxen stood on my side of the stage and it was fascinating to see him playing all those familiar tunes. The band were tight and I’m sure the crowd sang along to almost every word. There was a mix of tempos, acoustic and use of backing singers. At one point a number of people from the crowd got to go on stage and a young girl sang the opening section of parklife, she was very brave.

All in all it was probably one of the best gigs I’ve been to and certainly the highlight of my holiday.

Blur rocks.

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