Music tends to deal in extremes, be it sonically, aesthetically, or otherwise. For the most part, the same goes for music journalism – writers tend to like things or loathe them, for the simple reason that it’s easier to put words to those opposing feelings.
It’s more difficult to discuss things when they’re only alright – case in point, Gorillaz most recent jaunt at Malahide Castle. In a lot of ways, it was good to see a band’s main concern be the music, and not get bogged down by staging and set novelties. With that said, given that this is a virtual band, the minimalist approach – from stationary backdrops to replays of their music videos – is slightly underwhelming.
It’s a good varied set – a relief for those who weren’t 100% sold on their most recent record, ‘Humanz’. Rhinestone Eyes sets the crowd in motion but the atmosphere remains pretty muted throughout. Some of this has to be put down to the venue choice though. It’s still a bit disappointing to see Damon Albarn flailing about in his fluorescent yellow jumper being met meekly by the hoards of attendees.
New track Humility gets a live outing, keeping hopes high for upcoming sixth album ‘The Now Now’. The transitions in that sense are seamless, with the new material already fitting right in with their back catalogue. Superfast Jellyfish and Feel Good Inc sees support De La Soul rejoin Albarn and co, sending the crowd buoying once again.
The encore allows for a strong finish, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble re-emerge on stage for Lake Zurich. Then, it’s hit after hit – it would be hard not to get a crowd revved up when you’re supplying them with Saturnz Barz, Kids With Guns and Clint Eastwood back-to-back.
On a summer’s day, Malahide Castle is a great place to be, for sure. However, it’s a big space to fill (both literally and atmospherically). Performance-wise, Gorillaz were pretty faultless – and yet, it’s hard not to feel like they could have done more with what they had. The Malahide stop of the Humanz tour provides a taste of what’s to come – hopefully an arena date will follow the new album.