Gorillaz at Rockhal, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg, November 1st, 2017, Reviewed
We were waiting for this event for a long time, almost twenty years to be more precise… I already had the lucky opportunity to hear a foretaste during a previous Damon Albarn solo concert I had attended 3 years ago, as he had reinterpreted some songs from Gorillaz, Blur and The Good, the Bad & the Queen, and it had given me a strong urge to attend a Gorillaz concert!
On November 1st, the 6.500 people audience of the Rockhal had the honor to attend the first Gorillaz venue in Luxembourg ever and the first stop of the European “Humanz” promotional tour for the 5th album of the band released on April, 2017. Each Gorillaz gig is a big event and the date was sold out since last June! The least we can say is that Damon Albarn and his virtual band (aka 2-D, Murdoc, Russel and Noodle) gave us a phenomenal show, fluctuating between melancholy and delirious energy.
Opening with the famous “M1 A1” and the scary “Hello? Is anyone there?” (very appropriate for the next day of Halloween!), the Londoner and his musicians immediately transported the crowd into their fantasy island by interpreting some songs from their former albums such as “Last Living Souls” and “Every Planet We Reach Is Dead” from “Demon Days”, “Tomorrow Comes Today” from their self-titled debut album or “Rhinestone Eyes” and “On Melancholy Hill” (one of my favorites) from “Plastic Beach”. What a nostalgia when I specially heard “El Mañana” and “Kids With Guns” from 2005 “Demon Days” album! Each song was accompanied with colorful visual effects, sci-fi scenic design, Banksy ape art, videoclips, animated comics and cartoons by Jamie Hewlett projected on a huge screen behind the orchestra.
Obviously the new album was not forgotten since they played seven songs from “Humanz”, starting with “Saturn Barz” early during the set, “Strobelite”, “Andromeda” and the beautiful “Busted And Blue” played in a pretty sober way without any instrument at the end of the song. This tune I did not really notice on the record reminded me of “Everyday Robots”, Albarn’s solo album. They also played a B-side called “Sleeping Powder” and Albarn seemed very joyful and relax like his laughing face avatar on the videoclip behind him!
The interesting thing with Gorillaz is that they are ceaselessly renewing their sound. As usual they played alternative versions of their own universe. During an hour and a half, they also hosted several guests on stage to enhance their numerous collaborations in two decades. Some of them appeared just on screen like Popcaan on “Saturnz Barz”, Jehnny Beth on “WGTP”, the late Bobby Womack on “Stylo” or the late Lou Reed on the rare “Some Kind Of Nature”, while De La Soul members came on stage for a featuring on “Feel Good Inc.” like in the authentic 2005 version of the hit, saturated with megaphone effect and laughs from the grave.
At the middle of the set, the stage turned into a rap battle performance because the band hosted Jamie Principle and Zebra Katz for the hot “Sex Murder Party” and the rappers ended the song among us in the crowd! Then the young rapper Little Simz, who had already opened the show with her own material, came back to perform the jumping brand new “Garage Palace” only released the day before! We knew that Albarn was a prolific songwriter but it was a kind of privilege to be the first audience to enjoy it live in Europe. That hip hop moment finished with the entertaining “Superfast Jellyfish” featuring POS from De La Soul.
After a very Britpop, quite “Blur-ish” “We Got The Power” (without Noel Gallagher to my disappointment, but with Little Simz for a rap improvisation) to close the main part of the show, we literally went into raptures over the first melodica notes from the inescapable “Clint Eastwood” for the encore! All the crowd was definitely singing along and dancing! They kept the best for last. On my way back home, I didn’t stop remembering the lyrics of “On Melancholy Hill” : “Cause you are my medicine / When you’re close to me” and that’s what I felt with Gorillaz that night!
Setlist of the first show of first Europe leg of “Humanz” tour :
Last Living Souls
Tomorrow Comes Today
Every Planet We Reach Is Dead
On Melancholy Hill
Busted And Blue
Some Kind Of Nature
Interlude : Elevator Going Up
Interlude : Penthouse
Sex Murder Part
Kids With Guns
We Got The Power
Feel Good Inc.