The Gorillaz have been one of my favourite acts ever since their first release back in 2001. It’s crazy to think that it was seventeen years ago that ‘Clint Eastwood‘ was first released. In that time I have never managed to catch them live, so to have the opportunity to see them on my own doorstep was something that I wasn’t going to miss. This was definitely one to tick off my live music bucket list.
This is not the first time the band have used Portsmouth to warm up for larger shows. Back in March 2010, the band took over the Wedgewood Rooms to warm up for their Plastic Beach tour. That night they covered pretty much everything from all three albums that they’d released at the time.
As I left home, Portsmouth appeared to be a bit of a ghost town, but when my taxi pulled into Guildhall Walk it was the complete opposite. There were people gathering outside the bars and making their way to the Guildhall. The queue had already started forming outside the Guildhall about 45 minutes before the doors were due to open. There was still plenty of time before the doors opened so I opted to nip into the Brewhouse and Kitchen for a bottle of Einstök White Ale.
When it came to entering the venue there was a bit of a delay due to searches but I don’t think any of the crowd minded or begrudged it. Credit to the staff as they managed to get everyone through in good time so you weren’t standing around for too long. It wasn’t lost on me that as we waited they were showing the One Love Manchester concert on the Guildhall Square’s big screen.
As this was a warm up show for the band’s Humanz tour there were no support acts. Just after 8 o’clock the lights dipped and the intro began. The band took to the stage and went straight into ‘Ascension.’ The mammoth two hour set featured mostly track taken from Humanz but was supplemented with classics such as including ‘Stylo‘ and ‘El Mañana.’
Early on in the performance Damon Albarn explained that it was tough to fit everything and everyone on stage as Gorillaz was such a big family. The band included the very cool Seye Adelekan on bass and Jeff Wootton on lead guitar. The energetic pair bounced off each other all night and were clearly enjoying the show as much as we were in the audience. The six backing singers also added a nice touch to the performance.
Halfway through the set Damon introduced the track ‘Sex Murder Party‘ and explained that it was inspired by an article in the Evening Standard. Damon also pointed out how the lyrics ‘the future is coming on’ from ‘Clint Eastwood’ seemed quite apt at the moment. This could only be a reference to the upcoming election and how we all have the power to influence what kind of United Kingdom we would like to see over the next five years.
One of the most important members of the Gorillaz who you don’t often see on stage is co-creator and artist Jamie Hewlett. It is he who is responsible for creating Murdoc, 2-D, Noodles and Russel. Through the show, the live performances were complemented by videos featuring the mischievous quartet and the collaborators who weren’t able to be there on stage. It would have been great to have seen Shaun Rider and Noel Gallagher on stage but it wasn’t to be.
The events of London were also referenced by Damon, who dedicate ‘We Got The Power‘ to everyone who was affected by the events on the previous night. This track features Noel Gallagher and Jehnny Beth. As a teenager in the 90’s, like large sections of the audience, we were all aware of the supposed Blur and Oasis rivalry. When Damon was recently asked about the collaboration by vulture.com he explained that it was something that they’ve been wanting to do for years. He went on to explain that there were no plans to get Liam involved, adding that if asked: “No doubt he’d have a fantastic one-liner about what a bunch of fucking knobheads we are.”
After what must have been about twenty songs the band left the stage to rapturous applause before returning for the inevitable encore. They’d played so many songs that I could even think what was left to cover. Although there were still a few classics left to play including ‘Feel Good Inc‘ and ‘Clint Eastwood.’
This goes down as one of the best gigs I’ve been to in Portsmouth or perhaps even anywhere.
This goes down as one of the best gigs I’ve been to in Portsmouth or perhaps even anywhere. A large part of that was due to the Gorillaz but a lot of credit must go to the crowd who were brilliant. Whether you were at the front or the very back the very the atmosphere was incredible, everyone was singing and dancing from the beginning until the very end. It got rather sweaty but Damon was on hand to shower the audience with water throughout the gig.
On behalf of everyone in Portsmouth, thank you Gorillaz. Come back soon!
Photos by Stuart Barker, Jon Neil and Grzegorz Kopacz.
I was there last night and have to also say it was the best gig I’ve been to in Portsmouth! Damon is an incredible front man who really knows how to get the crowd going. The sound, lights and visual effects on the backdrop were all incredible and made for a great overall experience.