Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Welcome Back to the Real Band of Our Generation

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Welcome Back to the Real Band of Our Generation

Article excerpt

Byline: Richard Godwin

RETROSPECT is a fine thing. Back in the Britpop era -- a time of Stella Artois and Loaded magazine, Kangol hats and Gareth Southgate, the closest my generation would ever come to a Summer of Love -- the band that captured the national mood was Oasis.

However, while we didn't realise it then, the band anticipating the national mood, not to mention the band you still want to listen to today, was, of course, their rival, Blur.

The rave reviews of last night's Glastonbury appearance, and of this month's earlier comeback shows, confirm that this was the real band of the Nineties. The quartet released their first single in 1990, and their last with their original line-up in 2000, following the contours of the decade perfectly.

In that time, though they never had the depth of Radiohead or the invention of Massive Attack, Damon Albarn and his bandmates made an extraordinary range of pop, flirted with art and politics and even now, collectively and individually, continue to surprise. Oasis, meanwhile, continue to peddle the same blokeish boozalongs.

Blur were the first band I ever saw live when, aged 14, my sister and I went to Wembley Arena for the Great Escape tour of 1995. It was a strange show -- I remember a moody Albarn and a stage set strewn with fibreglass props of British icons.

Reading between the lines now, the band were uncomfortable with the Britpop we loved even then, ready to move on to the next thing -- yet this in itself was a movement they created. When the Nineties began, and rock fans were in thrall to American grunge, Albarn championed a uniquely British music that could allude to vaudeville, dog racing and shipping forecasts, The Beatles and the Kinks. He was ridiculed for songs such as the sublime For Tomorrow (1993) but by the time Parklife came out in 1994, and British art, music and fashion were on the ascendancy, the nation was ready to turn him into a superstar. …

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