While they may have started out as somewhat tongue in cheek cartoon band almost 12 years ago, Gorillaz put on an incredible live show that proved every bit of the groups larger than life status. It was everything you have ever come to expect of a big arena show and then some. With a huge lit up GORILLAZ logo that changed various colors throughout the night and an enormous video screen (50’?) directly above, it definitely gave the 5,000+ concertgoers eyes a visual workout throughout the entire show.
The show began just as their latest album ‘Plastic Beach’ opens, with an orchestral intro followed by ‘Welcome To The World of the Plastic Beach’ which featured the song’s video synched on the screen. While it would have been awesome to see Snoop Dogg do his part in person, seeing a giant video of him only added to the shows enormous production. The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble however were in the house and their energy set the night off to a great start.
The first major highlight of the night was ‘Stylo’ which featured Bootie Brown (of The Pharcyde) filling in for Mos Def’s role and the legendary singer Bobby Womack, whose cool swagger surpassed even that of Gorillaz co-founder and leader Damon Albarn. Speaking of Albarn, I only got to see Blur once, but he seems even more fitting and comfortable in his role as conductor, frontman, and cheerleader of this impressive group of musicians. The two members of The Clash (Paul Simonon holding it down on bass, and Mick Jones on guitar) were both decked out in captains hats, which seemed like a fitting yet subtle attempt for them to stand out amongst the rest of the band, or at the very least a visual indication for the youngsters in the crowd, of which there were many.
As great as the music was performed, the MVP of the night for me was definitely Jamie Hewlett, whose 2D cartoons, 3D animations, and sketches were shown on the giant video screen above the band for the entire show. I’m not even a huge comic book nerd, but I felt like a 10 year old kid again watching his work. It was easily one of the most impressive displays of video work i’ve seen at an arena show since Nine Inch Nails at the very same venue in 2001. With all of the visual stimulation going on, you’d think it might overshadow the actual music that was being played, but it added to the experience greatly and the show wouldn’t have been nearly the same experience without it.
Not surprisingly, the concerts biggest highlight came during the encore when they played arguably their two biggest singles, Feel Good, Inc. and Clint Eastwood back to back. It was downright chilling hearing De La Soul’s David Jolicoeur’s maniacal laugh open up ‘Feel Good, Inc.’ live, which he would do a handful of more times throughout the song (seriously, I would just walk around doing that laugh in peoples faces ALL the time if I was him). Clint Eastwood was a treat to hear live, as like many in the audience i’m sure, it was my first introduction to Gorillaz in 2001.
I’ll admit I definitely scoffed at the ticket prices when the show was announced, but after the show last night and seeing all 30+ artists onstage at some point throughout the night along with amazing videos and lighting, it’s no wonder why the tickets were what they were, as none of that stuff comes cheap. I will say if you’re even remotely a fan of Gorillaz or interested in seeing this show to try and find away to see them on this tour, as it’s definitely one of the more special arena shows I’ve seen in a long long time.
Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach (feat. the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble & Snoop Dogg via video screen)
19-2000 (feat. Rosie Wilson)
Last Living Souls
O Green World
Stylo (feat. Bobby Womack & Boobie Brown)
On Melancholy Hill
Superfast Jellyfish (feat. De La Soul)
Kids With Guns
Tomorrow Comes Today
Broken (feat. The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble)
Dirty Harry (feat. Bootie Brown)
DARE (feat. Rosie Wilson)
White Flag (feat. Bashy & Kano)
Cloud of Unknowing (feat. Bobby Womack)
Feel Good Inc. (feat. De La Soul)
Clint Eastwood (feat. Bashy & Kano)
Don’t Get Lost in Heaven
Demon Days (feat. Bobby Womack)