By Paul Campbell
Twenty years after forming at Goldsmiths college, Blur have retreated from their country houses to launch another assault on Britain’s music scene. Following Led Zeppelin, The Police and their Britpop contemporaries The Verve, the band play Hyde Park next summer, in what will be their first gig since the end of the century.
Their first public performance was at the end of year degree show at Goldsmiths in 1989.
Damon Albarn, the band’s singer and chief songwriter, enrolled on a part time course at the New Cross university in 1988 “just to get on campus”. He met guitarist Graham Coxon and bassist Alex James in his first term, and together they recorded a number of demo tapes and played at local venues.
Never stereotypes, it is a surprise the band has reformed after an acrimonious division between Albarn and Coxon split the group’s creative centre. “It just felt right again,” said Albarn. “There’s something for us to do again, we’re not completely useless or pointless. We have a reason to exist.”
Coxon is emphatically upbeat about the reunion: “It’s just going to make me laugh. It will be funny to see our four faces again in such close proximity, in such a positive way, because the last time there were four of us together it was really weird.”
Blur have not wasted their years apart. Albarn’s virtual band Gorillaz attained universal success, even picking up a Grammy in 2006. He also released records with Mali Music and his supergroup The Good, The Bad and The Queen. His opera, Monkey: Journey to the West, has aired in Manchester, London, Berlin and Paris.
Coxon released a series of solo albums on his own label after the demise of Blur. More recently, he played guitar on Pete Doherty’s forthcoming solo record.
Alex James, Blur’s bassist, released his autobiography last year. High on the agenda were his sexual promiscuity and the prestigious goat’s cheese gong he received at the British Cheese Awards. His unsuccessful post-Blur bands Me Me Me and Wigwam were not as well covered.
The only notable achievement of drummer Dave Rowntree was his nomination, but eventual failure, to win a seat at Westminster for the Labour Party.
The Hyde Park gig takes place on July 3. Tickets are on sale from 9am Friday December 12 at www.livenation.co.uk. Tickets are £45, limited to six per person, and subject to a booking fee. Girls and boys: let the park life begin.