This show was being recorded. Nothing against any performer and performance, but playing a recorded gig at the Royal Albert Hall means you need to be spot on. You fucking need to give it all. And Daman Albarn & the Heavy Seas didn’t miss a note. They managed to ignite a crowd that was mostly 30 +, delivering a show that can be easily in the top 5 gigs of 2014.
Of course, the venue helped. As soon as you step in the Royal Albert Hall, your breath is taken away. It’s one of the rare venues that give an enjoyable show to the eyes even before the venue starts filling with people.
The circular arrangement of the red seats, the impressive high ceilings, the beautifully curved stones contribute in giving a different feel to the concert. The mixture of lighting, the colour of the stones and the blood red colour of the seats give it a nice warmth.
What’s best is the amazing acoustics. The venues delivers an exceptional sound quality wherever you sit. As importantly is its capacity of retaining the loud cheers of the crowd. There is nothing more enjoyable than to feel part of a concert and witnessing the cheers mixing up to the music makes you shiver.
But then, you do need to warm that crowd up in order to hear the cheers; and god did the Heavy Seas and Albarn spark some fire! Each musician on the stage plays with a lot of passion, you can see it and you can feel it.
The elegant bassist communicates continuously with the public while making love to his bass. While the guitarist is dancing and jumping continuously with his guitar. Damon Albarn holds the hand of a girl in the crowd at some point and sings to her eyes in the eyes. (She was going to faint). Damon throws his energy to the crowd and makes them cheer whenever he desires. He’s like a Chef D’orchestre, leading the musicians, the music, the crowd and the show. He knows we are part of the concert and made sure we filled our role.
One of the most beautiful moment was when Albarn sang End of a Century with special guest, ex-blur guitarist Graham Coxon. And when a very young trumpeter joined the acoustic set and played the solo part of the song. At the end of the performance, the crowd was on its feet and so was Albarn who hugged the young trumpeter and told him cheerfully: “YOU NAILED IT! YOU NAILED IT! “No idea who was the boy but it must have been a magic moment for him. It was anyway for us.
Another great moment was when Gorillaz crew came in to sing Feel Good Inc. The Rappers know how to make you dance!
All in all the concert wouldn’t have been so great without the quality of the music itself, and the amazing career spanning setlist, the emotion, the perfection with which it was played.
I can now forgive Damon for saying his Blur concert at Hyde Park in 2012 was their last, while it wasn’t. And that goes a long way.