Blur - The Blur reunion debate
Miss Fliss 21/12/2008
So Blur have reformed and are to do a set of gigs. A nostalgia fest has ensued, NME digging out Parklife era mod casual Blur shots, and writing about the band in layman's terms for the benefit of younger readers who missed out on them first time around, and it all just feels too soon since (a) the band suspended work, and (b) they were at their most creative and successful peak. Is it worth going to see the band at this juncture? Or was the whole affair better as a closed book?
To this writer at least, the band left off just the right time. Seven albums of overall decent musical content, leaping from indie noise, to 60s guitar pop, to romping cockney Britpop, to schizophrenic skits of punk/balladry/beeps, to their more experimental/funky/downbeat closure, Blur certainly covered a plethora of musical genres and adventures and achieved a great deal. Towards the end of their more adverse tangents ('Doing a Radiohead', we call it nowadays), I for one lost the impassioned interest that had lead me to follow them for so many years (in my teen years being part of the paid fan club and having a network of penpals that were all fans of the band, and keeping every cutting/poster/interview, etc featuring Blur). When the band moved on to their own things, it felt natural and right, not to mention pleasing to the ear and successful. I was truly impressed by Damon Albarn's work and performance with The Good The Bad and The Queen, where his vernacular vocal play worked well with bleak Victorian ambience and theatrics, downbeat trill piano, soaring violins, and the ace workmanship of Paul Simonon's unmistakable world class bass underpinning the whole shebang. For me, it was the collaboration of the decade (maybe more), and I was hoping to hear more from the band, and felt it outdid plenty of latterday Blur efforts.
And that's just it, I was comfortable with the way each Blur band member had moved on: Damon with his various projects fulfilling his various wayward whims, Graham Coxon with his long established awkward folkie solo artistry, and his stream of albums that acted as projections of his personality and foible-like wishes, the very core of which surely caused the friction in Blur's musical direction and practice in the first place?
Then there was Alex James with his arch waffling in broadsheet newspapers and fleeting roundtable TV appearances, and Dave Rowntree with his frankly absurd and surprising political interest and activity. It all seemed like a closed book, with the thud of finality.
So, while I'm not disinterested in seeing if anything decent comes out of the Blur reunion - not that it's really been an awful lot of time since they were together anyway - the comeback doesn't ignite any passion or fan-like devotion in me, and the gigs all seem to whiff of celebrating a Blur that no longer exists. I remember being 14 and reading about the outdoor gig the band performed at Mile End in '95 and feeling so enlivened by the writing and sense of event and the consequent wish to have been there. But Blur, Hyde Park, 2009, just doesn't do it for me, it's just too late and too much an air of what's already been and gone. I think there's a lot to be said for bands who call it day in dignified manner and do move on, which Blur had, in my mind, done.
But what do you think? Are you excited by the prospect of Blur getting together again? Will they make exciting new music, or does the reunion smack of money-making tactics, or an excuse for self indulgence and pointless nostalgia?