Damon Albarn thoroughly enjoyed connecting with fans in Phoenix on Monday night, smiling like a schoolboy as Gorillaz plunged into entertaining the crowd, from teens in Gorillaz shirts to fans in their 40s and 50s , all come together in a country under a groove.
Albarn lingered in the crowd a few times, threatening to skim three songs on “Tranz” and waving his hands in the air (as if he just didn’t care) with a look of pure excitement over “White Light.”
He donned a captain’s hat on the audience-favorite version of “19-2000” while leading a smile-inducing song “Get the cool/Get the cool shoeshine” and took a selfie with a fan’s phone (or possibly video) on “Cookie Island”.
That passion is not contagious.
It doesn’t hurt that Albarn happens to have one of the most versatile, unique, and emotionally charismatic voices of his generation, not just on Monday’s occasion, but especially in songs that play his more soulful instincts .
For full disclosure, Albarn has my favorite voice of any living singer. He put it to good use at the trail center.
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Gorillaz’s creative mix of rock and hip hop
In what may be the most consistent creative duo of forward rock and hip-hop since the interactive start in the ’80s, Gorillaz gives Damon Albarn a surprisingly resilient tool to further expand his artistic horizons than he has managed under Blur’s helm. even better.
It’s a diverse mix of genres that blurs any artificial boundaries that exist between them, while giving Gorillaz a cultural currency in 2022, keeping the singer’s ’90s Brit pop veterans on the NME they are now Where? document.
Albarn and his bandmates are nothing more than vessels performing the work of Gorillaz, the world’s most successful virtual band, led by keyboard singer 2-D, who sounds a lot like Albarn. With bassist Murdoc Niccals; a woman known only as Noodle on lead guitar, keyboards and vocals; and Russell Hobbs on drums.
Those Gorillaz were greeted with applause as animated images from their videos flooded the screens behind the musicians.
Albarn, who launched Gorillaz as a side business in 1998 with his then-roommate Jamie Hewlett, claims to have made his name before Gorillaz by co-writing and illustrating “Tank Girls,” releasing their seminal, self-titled full-length debut album 2001 Hewlett art and video.
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The “feel-good” nature of collaboration
A large part of Gorillaz’s success is due to Albarn’s love of collaboration, whether it’s creating a virtual world with Hewlett or inviting Stevie Nicks and Bad Bunny to join his studio on their eighth album, which will be released in February. Album “Cracker Island”.
Fans at the concert in Irvine, California the night before were greeted by Thundercat, Schoolboy Q, Beck, Tame Impala, Del the Funky Homosapien and Mali singer Fatoumata Diawara in addition to the guests we saw in Phoenix.
That sort of thing should probably take a small part of the luster from the show.
But that doesn’t seem to matter. That’s what’s so interesting about this show.
Atlanta hip-hop duo EarthGang opened with a dynamic power show, returning to the stage for addictive footage in audience-loving tidbits like the speed-rap “Top Down” and soulful “Strong Friends.” “opium.”
Pharcyde’s Bootie Brown rocked the mic on several songs, revisiting his rap on Gorillaz’ classic “Dirty Harry” as the set was under construction, kicking off with “New Gold” and recent single “Stylo” prelude.
De La Soul led the crowd into an almost euphoric single from “Feel Good Inc.,” followed by a motivational speaker-style call and response led by Posdnous, which ended on a fun note that anyone paying attention Must know is coming.
“I need you to say I feel strong,” he testified. “I feel confident. I feel special. Actually, I think I might…feel good.”
It’s ridiculous – absurd at its best.
“Feeling Good Inc.” It was a tough move, even without such a stellar performance before.
But Gorillaz somehow managed to capitalize on the momentum, bringing the encore to a vibrant finale with their iconic breakout single “Clint Eastwood,” playing straight from the start until Sweetie Irie, the British reggae toaster. Emerge from the wing and lead them into the ballroom mix.
Thundercat (in “Cracker Island”), Little Dragon (in “Empire Ants”), Shaun Ryder (in “Dare”), Slowthai (in “Momentary Bliss”) and Kevin Parker of Tame Impala (in “New Gold”), as well as animated images of Simonon, Jones, Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed, and De La Soul in the video, along with the wonderfully eager performances of “On Melancholy Hill.”
Soul star Bobby Womack was featured in their first live performance of “Clouds of the Unknown” since 2017, their last trip to Phoenix and their passing in 2014.
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Relentless groove, punk intensity and soul
Much of their performance seemed to focus on grooving as relentlessly as possible, with the quintet’s Humanz Choir accentuating Albarn’s soulful vocals and occasionally stepping out into the spotlight.
Michelle Ndegwa elicited one of the most enthusiastic crowd reactions on Monday in the gospel climax of “Kids with Guns.”
At least two of the highlights rocked with an almost punk intensity — the rousing end of their opening track “M1 A1” and the jaw-dropping second half of “Skinny Ape,” the new song that made its way into the fireworks with several soulful vocals The verse recalls the sleepy vulnerability of the fuzzy song “Tender.”
Changes are equally valid.
Sitting at the piano, Albarn reinvents “O Green World” from the post-punk robofunk of the original recording into a surprisingly understated (which also gives way to the post-punk tendencies of the loud parts).
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No conflict?no problem
The last time Albarn came to Phoenix was in 2010, Gorillaz’s touring lineup included Clash guitarists Mick Jones and Paul Simonon (the guy who smashed his bass on the cover of “London Calling” who was also on one of Albarn’s other The other bands, the good, the bad and the queen) are on the bass.
There isn’t that kind of history behind this lineup. But that doesn’t matter either.
They are great. Not only was it great, but it was energetic, tight and very fun.
In addition to Albarn, whose responsibilities range from singing and rap to playing keyboards, guitar and harmonica, this version of Gorillaz features longtime lead guitarist Jeff Wootton, bassist Oluwaseye Adelekan, drummer Femi Koleoso, percussionist Karl Vanden-Bossche and Music Director Mike Smith Keys.
In addition to those backup singers mentioned earlier: Angel Williams-Silvera, Jesse Appiah, Michelle Endeva, Petra Luke and Rebecca Fleckelton.
At one point, Albarn pulled out a very special golden horn that he told us – he only blew it on very special nights.
Of course, this happens to be one of those special nights.
This is what you know artists do in every city. But that doesn’t matter, at the end of the Gorillaz catalogue’s joyous celebration, you can see how special it is written in the smirk that seems to be forever etched on Albarn’s face.
Gorillas set list in Phoenix 2022
the last living soul
tomorrow comes today
O Green World
on Melancholy Hill
New Genius (Brother)
kid with gun
Opium (with EarthGang)
Interlude: The elevator goes up
Dirty Harry (with Bootie Brown)
I do not know the cloud
New Gold (with Bootie Brown)
Stylo (with bootie brown)
Feel Good Inc. (with Della Soul)
Clint Eastwood (with Sweetie Irie in Ed Case/Sweetie Irie Re-fix outro)
Contact the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-444-4495.follow him on twitter @EdMasley.
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