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"The indie-hero leaves the building. Thank God."

Always hated Blur, but remember this gig, and this chap, as a real charmer. This is the closest I was ever allowed to Blur actually, smart editors see. Always had to grab a quote at the end of the gig, always hated doing that but I recall Graham & Dave being sweet. Shame about their jazz-hands mate really. 

Sheffield Leadmill 

(from Melody Maker, July 19th, 2000) 
Maybe the whys and wherefores don't matter. Maybe it's pointless tryng to figure out the real reasons for people coming here. Nobody could really have been expecting a cheeky Blur cover, or a glimpse of Damon in the wings. Graham Coxon deflates any sense of happening as soon as he walks on -the rest of the night is your choice between enjoying this music in ferocious and meaning-laden context, or just enjoying it like you've stumbled upon it unawares.
If Coxon hadn't announced himself with this tour, had anonymously slipped on to a support slot next month, and just let 'The Golden D' quietly worm its way into our souls, the blissful devastation his band wreak would be up for grabs, a cool new fix. And none of you would have come to see it. The problem, if there is one, is that this band wil be tolerated as that most tiresome indulgence, the side-project, when in fact Coxon's making music some of us might infinitely prefer to anything from his bigger band.
To be fair, all of the above becomes bullshit-overthink about one second into 'That's all [i wanna do]'. You're thinking, "OK, why not just invite us round to flick through your Hüsker Dü collection ? But then the songs surges ahead and... fucking hell, what a band ! Dave Rowntree on drums, Rod Idlewild on guitars - why the fuck haven't they come up with anything this fantastic in their proper jobs ?" Coxon staggers under the howl, only taking the mic to sigh/scream/sing innexact lyrics in a tiny weeny voice.

'Jamie Thomas' and 'The Fear' are more solid feats of engineering, but something's lost when a band this fluid have to play forward. Yet the squeals from the pit imply a whole re-education could be going on. Patronising to say it, but the thought of Blur fans rocking out to Mission of Burma covers ('That's when i reach for my revolver' and 'Fame and Fortune') doesn't just warm the elistist soul, it's pretty much a brave insistence on a love affair these fans should make themselves a part of.
Coxon remains stage-centre throughout, but after a while you're not even looking at him. During 'Don't think [about always]' you actually find yourslef staring at the amps, as if you can see what glowering chaos will issue forth. And you'd never have thought that before arrivig tonight. 

Called back for an encore, you realize the transformation you've witnessed in the past half hour : from a guy in a band that you hate, to a guy with a band that has a definite future. The indie-hero leaves the building. Thank God.
Neil Kulkarni

Graham Coxon's verdict:  "It was surprisingly good when you consider that the only rehearsals we've had were last week for about three days. It's been really breakneck putting the band together and getting ready for the tour, so i'm really pleased with how it's gone. The crowd were kind of folded-arms, OK-impress-me-then, but i'm actually more nervous about the London shows. Damon's gonna be at one of them, I think. That's slightly nerve-wracking."
Dave Rowntree:  "It was good. Last night in Glasgow was mental, though. For me, it's just an opportunity to play without the whole circus that goes along with Blur. Everything in Blur is really thought-out, requires a lot of yourself and a lot of effort. This is, i wouldn't say more physical and less cerebral, i'd say it's still both, but you feel a lot more relaxed knowing that, hey, we only rehearsed for three days last week, let's go out and just do it. There's a lot less pressure on."


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1. Dogs Trust - 'I Only Want To Be With You
2. Renault Zoe - That's Entertainment
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