Gig Review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown with Photography by Bianca Barrett

So tonight will be an interesting gig as the crowds head to Arena Birmingham on this damp winter’s night, as this band are something entirely different – predominantly because they are made up of a cast of virtual characters – 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs. Welcome tonight (with their real life vocalist), Damon Albarn – to the ecletic world that is Gorillaz.

Gorillaz

So, Damon Albarn creatively moved away from his Britpop mates in Blur by joining up with artist Jamie Hewlett and literally creating the virtual world of Gorillaz, remarkably nearly twenty years ago. Their first outing ‘Gorillaz’ sold in bucket loads, as did follow-up ‘Demon Days.’ After a five year break – they returned earlier this year with ‘Humanz’ and a 40 odd date tour to boot.

Gorillaz

Gorillaz

A voice reaches out, via radio waves, to start off their humongous set, “Hello? Can anybody hear me?” the voice shouts.  The advent of technology has worked well for Gorillaz and now they can bring their virtual world to the reality of the masses.

Gorillaz

Gorillaz

With stunning visuals, huge LED screens brought the characters and their world to life; this vital world here in person. 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs really were interacted with the crowd, playing instruments in unisons with reality; singing lyrics, and reacting.

But hey, that’s not all – many real life humans took to the stage too. The energetic and charismatic Albarn, with six backing vocalists, a mini orchestra plus band.  Clearly Albarn and Hewleet and co took a great deal of time and thought on how they were gonna deliver this one. The set starts off with ‘M1 A1’ and we’re hooked. ‘Rhinestone Eyes’, Saturnz Barz’ and ‘Hong Kong’ are hauntingly beautiful, while dance is the option for the crowd during ‘El Manana’ and ‘Dirty Harry’.

Gorillaz

Gorillaz

And on top of the everything, the virtual  creativity and massed talented humans on stage – more was to come – special guests! The Selector’s Pauline Black joined in on ‘Charger’ before hip-hop, who’ve been partying on most this tour, De La Soul, joined in on ‘Superfast Jellyfish.’ Jame Principle and Zebra Katz joined for ‘Sex Murder Party’ and Little Simz on ‘Garage Palace.’

Gorillaz

Gorillaz

And the party keeps on giving – Vince Staples and Peven Everett contributed to the psychedelia on hits ‘Ascension’ and ‘Strobelite.’ All this lt topped off by Albarn, giving it his all, leaping across the stage (or audience) at any given moment.

Of course massive hit ‘Feel Good Inc’, was gonna get us all partying. And hey – lets top it off with an encore of  ‘Kids With Guns’, ‘Clint Eastwood’, ‘Don’t Get Lost In Heaven’ and ‘Demon Days.’

Gorillaz

Gorillaz

Wow. Given the virtual word that Gorillaz reside in, Albarn and Hewlett have dabbled over the years with just how to translate this in reality to the masses on tour. Technology is there, in addition to the musical talent, and now with a pretty big back catalogue, they can all come out to play.

With so much to see and experience, the audio and the visual – well hey…..  Gorillaz. 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs. And a plethora of friends. They just make you feel good.


Setlist
M1 A1
Last Living Souls
Rhinestone Eyes
Tomorrow Comes Today
Every Planet We Reach Is Dead
19-2000
Charger
Superfast Jellyfish
On Melancholy Hill
El Manana
Saturnz Barz
Dirty Harry
Ascension
Strobelite
Andromeda
Sex Murder Party
Out of Body
Garage Place
Punk
Broken
Stylo
Feel Good Inc
We Got The Power
Hong Kong
Kids with Guns
Clint Eastwood
Don’t Get Lost In Heaven
Demon Days

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