TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

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rich
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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by rich » 02 Dec 2018, 20:24

Neal Zeal wrote:Anyone going to the London shows?
I might try for Thursday. Looks like they've all sold out but I reckon it'll be easy enough to get a face-value ticket e.g. off Gumtree.
Yes I'm going on Tuesday, Neal... :)
Tom - will see what I can do on the recording front - videos probably :)

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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by Ronnie » 02 Dec 2018, 22:30

Well after the unexpected joy of getting to the Cullercoats gig on Tuesday I made the way down to Blackpool yesterday. If you are going to see them in London I'd skip this as there will be spoilers.

The setlist was the same as the other gigs but this time out the band had a string and brass section on stage with them (each containing 3 members). Both were great additions to the band. I was particularly happy with the brass section being there as my favourite song on 'Merrie Land' is 'Truce of the Twilight' and they really lifted the live version.

As one would expect with the venue being a theatre, it was all seated. I had wondered how Damon would find playing a venue which might limit his interaction with the crowd. Damon had obviously given this some thought because after 'the Great Fire' he told the audience that it was alright for everyone to come and stand at the front " as that's what it's all about". What followed was a couple of minutes of good natured chaos as people scrambled to get that bit closer to the stage. Damon was then able to spend the rest of the gig clasping hands and singing right into people's faces.

Next up brought the highlight of the gig for me. As they started playing 'Lady Boston' there was no choir in sight. When the song reached the right moment though, the lights at the back of the stage rose ever so slowly to reveal the choir. The crowd went crazy at this. It was one of those moments that actually gave you chills. They didn't disappoint and added a wonderful dimension to the song live.

That wasn't the end of the choirs night though as they returned to add their voices to Nature Springs. This included an extended outro to the song featuring the choir and the string section only. During this Damon ran off stage only to reappear on the end of the choir with his arm around the choir member next to him. He seemed ecstatic to have them onstage.

I didn't mention 'Tommy' the dummies part in the show during the Cullercoats gig in my last review simply because I thought this would be something they would do every night and I didn't want to spoil anything . I noticed however that the Guardian's review gives the game away so I thought I should mention it. However if you are seeing them this week don't read the next paragraph.

So during '80's life' Damon tries his hand at ventriloquism. Tommy is brought to the front of the stage and the lights dim on the band and Damon to give Tommy centre stage. It's an enjoyable moment and most importantly Damon's vocals don't suffer from having to sing and try and control the dummy at the same time.

Damon mentioned that the band had been in Blackpool two years ago using a rehearsal room up by the Tower and had gone for a wander. When they got to the North Pier the family who run it spotted them and were happy to show them around. Apparently the family were the ones who invited the band to play the venue. Damon was very passionate about the Pier and it's part in our Heritage.

The only minor gripe I have is I feel they missed a trick by not playing 'Herculean' with the choir. I think that would have been superb with them coming in at the end.

Overall it was another great performance. The whole band is working really well together and seem to be enjoying themselves (although Simon never seems to give much away) and the crowd absolutely loved it and responded accordingly. If they do tour next year I will certainly be back for more.

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rich
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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by rich » 02 Dec 2018, 23:36

Excellent review - thanks again Ronnie!

Here's the Guardian's Blackpool review for those of you that don't mind spoilers!
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/ ... -blackpool

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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by Mallard No. 22 » 03 Dec 2018, 09:06

Yes, another excellent review Ronnie.
"Everybody's Doing It...So Do It Too...."

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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by John_d » 03 Dec 2018, 13:13

Great gig in Glasgow last night. Damon apologized for the number of references to England, Paul said "we're all on the same island". Paul's bass is really high in the mix but he plays brilliantly - as a big Clash fan, I don't know why this still slightly surprises me. Gun to the Head already sounds far better live than the Jools performance. Slightly rearranged I think. I'm not mad about the couple of songs that follow but from Lady Boston onwards it's great stuff. Playing some of the first album after the new album works well. The puppet for 80s Life was very unexpected but very amusing. Surprised by no Herculean. I saw Mike Smith at the bar beforehand and said hello to him. Coming straight off Gorillaz and straight into this is some shift. Either Damon is a joy to work with (can't imagine he is always an easy guy to be with) or he rewards his musicians very well!

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beats
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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by beats » 03 Dec 2018, 17:35

Gig last night in Glasgow was amazing. Had a great night.

I've seen Damon numerous times but he was more up for last night than I've maybe ever seen him. His energy was great. Perfect setlist. Maybe Herculean in it would have topped it off but you can't have everything! If you are going to see them in London then you are in for a huge treat. I've uploaded about 8 mins worth from last night. Link below, hope it works!

https://youtu.be/Uoex_4J_k5k

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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by Renny » 03 Dec 2018, 18:14

Going weds. What time did they start and what time does it finish?

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beats
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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by beats » 03 Dec 2018, 18:17

On at 9 and finished just before 10.30

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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by Mark72 » 03 Dec 2018, 18:46

All these fantastic reviews and pictures on social media is making buzzing for Wednesday!
“I need something to remind me that there’s something else”

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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by Pavlich » 04 Dec 2018, 01:17

These shows sound great, but my big takeaway is how excited Damon seems to be. He's living this project and this tour. So many videos on Instagram of him having some laughs with the audience (who seem like funny fuckers it has to be said - seems there's a good, well-hearted cheeky demographic to the crowds). I love that, really gives this whole thing such an affable vibe. Then there's how often he's posing (in his Steve Zissou-y beanie) for photos. When was the last time he was like this? Is it the small venues or the subject manner? I get the feeling it's both and then some. His passion these days really is England and a lot of his best later work is all about the miniature and massive of the UK (Fool's Day, Westway, The Poison Tree)... I've always said a Blur record about being older and wiser about London would be the logical step... we'll see...

Funny how much they love Blackpool. I went couple of years ago and thought it was a dreary shithole. I get it, it's a northern English beach and a relic of yesteryear and a sign of a huge British shift, but it was just depressing and full of tacky stores, Betfred's, pound shops, and not a whole lot else. I did see a bloke in bondage gear with a rubber dick on his head and dildos for arms, but that was about the peak...
John_d wrote:Great gig in Glasgow last night. Damon apologized for the number of references to England, Paul said "we're all on the same island". Paul's bass is really high in the mix but he plays brilliantly - as a big Clash fan, I don't know why this still slightly surprises me. Gun to the Head already sounds far better live than the Jools performance. Slightly rearranged I think. I'm not mad about the couple of songs that follow but from Lady Boston onwards it's great stuff. Playing some of the first album after the new album works well. The puppet for 80s Life was very unexpected but very amusing. Surprised by no Herculean. I saw Mike Smith at the bar beforehand and said hello to him. Coming straight off Gorillaz and straight into this is some shift. Either Damon is a joy to work with (can't imagine he is always an easy guy to be with) or he rewards his musicians very well!
In A Bit Of A Blur, Alex James says a lot of the early Blur rehearsal and ability to live was funded by Damon. Think he worked a few more jobs and pretty much put it all into the band. Alex seems really fond of it and it made me really like Damon. I mean, he's got a reputation as of his own world, arrogant, self-fulfilled but that was a sweet thing. I'd imagine he pays everyone well. Seems the big Gorillaz crew are always in good spirits.

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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by lumaka » 04 Dec 2018, 09:16

Pavlich wrote:Then there's how often he's posing (in his Steve Zissou-y beanie) for photos. When was the last time he was like this? Is it the small venues or the subject manner? I get the feeling it's both and then some.
I also think it's both, in small venues in small towns he was easier to catch - after zillions of photos with fans taken in Tynemouth, Cullercoats and Blackpool I've seen only two from Glasgow.

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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by tom_cas1 » 04 Dec 2018, 13:38

Pavlich wrote:I did see a bloke in bondage gear with a rubber dick on his head and dildos for arms, but that was about the peak...
:lol: :lol:
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Pavlich wrote:I did see a bloke in bondage gear with a rubber dick on his head and dildos for arms, but that was about the peak...

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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by kdiglas78 » 04 Dec 2018, 17:56

I wanted to add to the excellent Glasgow review above with some thoughts.

The performance on this tour is a piece of theatre, right down to the eyeshadow. Merrie land is played in full because it cannot be separated. It is a singular piece, a statement, with acts and scenes, yes, but only making sense in order.

Albarn is playing the part of manic ringleader, screaming into the void, clasping the sides of his cranium to simultaneously contain the madness, and tear it from his mind. At times he takes off with the intention of trashing the surrounding set, only to pull himself back at the last moment. He howls into the microphone, channeling Floyd-ian cackling, laughing so he won’t cry.

To his side, Simonon stares aggressively into the eyes of the crowd as if to ask whether they are enjoying this, and if this is even the kind of thing you can enjoy. He grooves and foxtrots back and forth, his manic toothy grin on display as he machine guns the crowd with his dub lows. Tong is way more active than given credit. He colours the set, stomping pedals, standing proud, turning and, yes, smiling. His guitar bites loudly, and the tremeloes lull us along on a sea of melancholy.

I can’t see Allen from my position. He doesn’t care. When I can crane around, he is drinking whiskey and grinning broadly. His playing is simultaneously light on top and thunderous down below, and the duly-appointed percussionist next to him gives him the room to loosen up.

Albarn lurches forward, points at ghosts, pulls at the corner of his mouth, dribbles as he screams, punches the air because they sound so good and strange, an echo of all that is great and sorrowful on this stroppy little island. The prowling preacher gives way at points to the pleading balladeer, trying to woo back his lost love.

And in this play you see the actors having plain old fun. It feels like a gang that only care about the message they are sending and not about the sales they are getting. They blow kisses, bow in reverence, collapse into each other’s arms, tell in-jokes that are never really explained.

The only misstep is when Albarn apologises for the fact that many of the lyrics refer to England. Simonon tries to offer succour by saying that we all live on the same island. Albarn changes the lyrics of Truce of Twilight to “in the dance schools of Scot-land”. He even tries to fit in “Scot-er-land” instead of “En-gur-land.” As he does so he looks at me and we both giggle at the silliness of it. Perhaps he realises that he’s missed the point. The Scots and the Northeners both know who has led us here, and we’d rather you stick with the original target of the lyrics rather than pull us into it. The song loses some of its bite but not all, because it remains a beast.

Last Man to Leave is great on the record. Live, as part of this play, it’s a revelation. Albarn gets to act the part and he wrings it dry. Thank you.

The older stuff is still great, and still hits. It’s a little more Gregorian and apocalyptic as opposed to the seaside suicide of the newer songs. It ends with a groovy tornado, the band speeding up mercilessly, Albarn wide-eyed, fingers cramping, begging them to stop. They don’t, and force him back to the piano. It’s a perfect metaphor to the siuation we find ourselves in as a country, the message carrying right on through to the glorious end.
Last edited by kdiglas78 on 05 Dec 2018, 12:33, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by Renny » 04 Dec 2018, 18:07

Jesus. I'm seriously looking forward to tomorrow night now.

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Re: TGTBTQ: Merrie Land Live Performances Thread

Post by Ronnie » 04 Dec 2018, 18:24

I couldn't agree more Kdiglas. It is a piece of theatre right down to the backdrops and the lighting. Early in the set at Blackpool I found myself blown away by the image of the band silhouetted on the stage. The imagery was so striking at times.

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