Gorillaz hit the 3Arena with a show brimming with intensity, a remarkable performance framed with a whirlwind of stunning pop visuals.
A sellout crowd were in expectant form long before our main act take to the stage, energised by Moonchild Sanelly who’s winning stage presence certainly has those in attendance in party form early on – Favourite Regret and Over You are the standouts from her bubbly, twerk-filled, effervescent set.
Then it’s time for Damon Albarn and his hugely talented troop of musicians to announce themselves by ripping into M1A1 with a ferocious onslaught of duelling guitars, the crowd going wild when ‘Dia Ghuit’ flashes on the impressively animated backdrop to reflect the song’s opening refrain of “Hello”. From then on in it’s absolute banger after banger with Albarn in hugely engaging and enthusiastic form, really feeding off the fans who he later states are “just perfect – 10 out of 10”.
Last Living Souls is almost church-like in it’s delivery, the quintet of backing singers sublime as they are throughout, an absolutely integral reason as to why Gorillaz are such a compelling live proposition. Tranz is another rip roarer as Albarn makes his first foray in to the audience draped in an Irish tricolour, which he says he can wear as he’s 30% Irish.
The melodica on on Tomorrow Comes Today is ghostly and hauntingly magnificent, whilst the tricolour is swapped for a pink cowboy hat for 19-2000 which engenders mass crowd participation, and they are in full singalong mode for Saturnz Barz which seems to fuel the lead singer even more, as he is absolutely amped for Rhinestone Eyes, once more launching himself into the welcoming fans at the front.
O Green World oozing with angst is simply outstanding, one of the stellar points on a night that is one long highlight, and it is immediately followed by a heavenly On Melancholy Hill. And there is no let up as Kids with Guns ratchets the intensity right back up again, it’s a twisted grunge-fuelled rendition which is probably the most Blur-like moment of the set, with added dashes of Salt’n’Pepa.
Bootie Brown and a choir of animated kids gets even the entire balcony to their feet for a joyous Dirty Harry, and they stay on their feet as Dare is brought to life with two of the backing singers taking on Shaun Ryder’s gargantuan dismembered head which is projected above them. Albarn is clearly ecstatic stating that “we can’t do better than this, this is joyous”. Yet the bar is raised once more with the glorious Plastic Beach which brings the main set to a superb conclusion.
But the crowd aren’t going anywhere and are rewarded with a tour-de-force of an encore which is kicked off by Albarn on piano in Elton John mode before the man himself (albeit in animated form) joins him for The Pink Phantom. Rappers Bootie Brown and Pos bring their crowd pleasing presence to proceedings on Stylo and Feel Good Inc. before the audience erupts with complete joy for the song that started it all – Clint Eastwood. It’s a fun-filled, elongated epic with the band in full-on party mode, as they excitedly deliver a drawn-out dub-tastic outro.
The night’s entertainment is brought to a beautiful, almost spiritual conclusion with the double serving of Don’t Get Caught in Heaven & Demon Days. It’s the perfect chilled out way to close out what has been a remarkable show, one that certainly leaves everyone happy and feeling glad.