2D, Noodle, Murdoc, and Russel (and an incredibly talented live band) took to Manchester Arena on the 1st December for a night of animated fun.
The only permanent member of the band, Damon Albarn, spent most of the night sing-rapping along, playing keyboard and guitar, and jumping around the stage, and generally being an excellent front-man; though the musicians behind him were no less important. His musical accompaniments for the night featured a choir who were nothing short of magical, and with the amount of features on Gorillaz albums, the night wouldn’t be complete without some guests.
Notable guests include Lil Simz, Zebra Katz, Peven Everett, Vince Staples, and De La Soul‘s David Jolicoeur and Vincent Mason (Feel Good Inc. live will forever remain one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen). It wasn’t just that Damon and the live band were visibly ecstatic to be performing with these guests, but the crowd were just as into it. This gig had one of the best crowds I have ever seen or been a part of. Everyone from the floor right to the tops of the seated area was up on their feat, going absolutely insane. It’s rare that a band gets even those right at the back of a seated area at an arena hyped up and dancing/ singing along, but it was impossible not to.
Their setlist made it impossible to sit still. Between funky instrumentals, rap verses, and melodic choruses, there was barely time to breath as you were pushed into the next element of the show. Songs like ‘Dirty Harry‘, ‘Superfast Jellyfish‘, ‘Feel Good Inc.’, ‘Melancholy Hill‘, and ‘Clint Eastwood‘, were closer to profound life experiences than to regular songs at a gig. It was moments like during those songs where everyone’s feeling exactly the same, and the arena is filled with an indescribably euphoric atmosphere.
The visuals are also worth a shout-out. From an animated band, I would have expected nothing less than what was present that night: Jamie Hewlett’s astounding work. Every single song had an extremely captivating visual behind it, and the variety in the visuals in each song just demonstrated Hewlett’s immense talent. From carefully crafted music videos, to excerpts from their short films, to new creations, every little clip fitted the songs perfectly, not just as something to go in the background, but something to enhance the performance. This was especially appreciated by people further from the front such as myself – the visuals more than made up for not being able to see all of the people on stage.
All in all, it was definitely a night to remember, and you should add Gorillaz to your list of bands to see before you die.