Review: Gorillaz at The O2 Arena, London

Now I admit it. I am a massive Gorillaz fan. I have previously written about the animated band with some reverence from seeing them live and you could probably guess this time will be no different. The Gorillaz have always been there with new music throughout the different eras of my life, as they have evolved so have I personally and because of this they are always a band I feel drawn too. (pun not intended)

The most recent album Humanz has seen a more urban dance theme than previous music released by them (for people that have not heard it think “DARE” but a more darker bassier vibe) and seem like they have been created specifically with live performances in mind, with this being the Humanz Tour I was indeed an eager beaver to see/hear how the new songs stacked up.

The support act saw Little Simz take to the stage (earlier than stated). Having heard her in passing a few times I did not know what to expect, I was blown away. Everything went black, then nothing but an anime style video played for a minute or two followed by the DJ telling everyone to get up. Little Simz took to the stage like a duck taking to water, the 23 year old black London rapper made sure every word she rapped about hit hard. Comparable to the emotional impact of the more meaningful Eminem songs, she made sure the topics that were mentioned in her songs were heard by everyone in attendance. Finishing with the song “Dead Body” she may not have made a fan out of everyone in attendance but definitely turned a few heads.

Gorillaz had a time slot of 1 hour 45 minutes. They smashed this by coming out early and finishing late, whatever you think about the music the value for money is nothing to turn your nose up at. In that time they played a whopping 30 songs spanning all main albums (except The Fall) and even though they did not play the song “Momentz” from their new album there was still a lot of stand out moments to be had in the show. After all most of the fun of a Gorillaz show is to see who will show up and boy did they have some people show up.

Opening up with a heavy guitar riff and going into “M1A1” from the first album the energy was set at a high from the offset urging people to get out of their seats, have fun and move around (unless you were the grumpy guys behind me telling everyone to sit down for a good half an hour).

Highlights included Pauline Black singing an alternative version of “Charger”, I only imagined this song as a heavier mosh song but with her vocals on top it added something completely un-expected and original. “Superfast Jellyfish” had Gruff Rhys & De La Soul on stage and as far as I can tell this was the first time Gruff Rhys had performed it live, “Andromeda” had a special extended outro by D.R.A.M., Mos Def came out with the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble for “Sweepstakes” for the first time in 7 years, Shaun Ryder & Roses Gabor came out for “DARE” and finally Noel Gallagher was on stage to sing “We Got The Power” with Jehnny Beth. Phew! That Damon Albarn does know some people it is safe to say.

“Clint Eastwood” was played in its purest form with Del from tape so people could sing along before closing on a nice calm note with “Don’t Get Lost in Heaven/Demon Days” which is always a site to behold from a production and musical standpoint.

If anyone has not been to a Gorillaz gig yet I would highly recommend it, with them breaking the boundaries of musical genres with every album there is always something for someone to enjoy whether they enjoy rock, rap, dance or pop. It’s not just the auditory senses being pleasured but also the visual senses too with video packages and artwork in the background of every song. Gorillaz does cover it all and after this performance I can not wait to see what they do next.