Damon Albarn's Gorillaz Come To Life

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 18, 2010 6:00PM

Damon Albarn fronts a 19+ member band in the current live incarnation of his multimedia hop-pop art project Gorillaz, and believe us when we say not a single note is superfluous or wasted. As his vision for the band has grown from a simple animated group through which he could kick out playful tunes on Gorillaz debut to the darkly ambitious and sprawling engagement of this year's Plastic Beach. Albarn is creatively restless and one can see his many side projects -- soundtracks, world music collaborations, that little band he fronts named Blur -- all coming together in the Gorillaz stew-pot, and what he's serving up is absolutely delicious.

We saw Albarn a few years ago when he came through town fronting Blur on their final tour and were struck by how little fun he seemed to be having at that point. The man we say Saturday night at the UIC Pavilion couldn't have been more different as he jumped, scissor-kicked and gleefully smiled his way across the stage. The underlying message of the music may be bleak and dark, but Albarn and his band are obviously having a terrific time wrapping it up in Gorillaz's shiny pop. For nearly two hours the band tore through the entire Gorillaz catalog, and while older songs seemed a little blander when propped against the new material, there wasn't a week tune in the whole bunch.

And the fans gave back as good as Albarn gave. We saw a few actually in costume as their favorite animated member of the band, apparently Murdoc is a favorite among the guys, and UIC Pavilion was turned into a non-stop dance party. There was even some boogieing down amongst our fellow music critics in our section, and that sort of thing almost never happens.

If you have a chance to catch the band and they haven't already hit your town, this is one ticket you will not regret buying.

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