2010 marks 12 years since Blur frontman, Damon Albarn and cartoonist, Jamie Hewelitt (Tank Girl) first teamed up to create their world famous “virtual band” Gorillaz. Since then, the animated music project has gone through various changes, lineup and otherwise. Albarn has remained the only consistent musical contributor to the group, with the projects self-titled debut incorporating the talents of Del The Funky Homosapien and producer, Dan the Automator, of which Damon had collaborated previously on the Deltron 3030 album. 2005 brought the sophomore release Demon Days, featuring appearance by such artists as De La Soul, MF Doom, and Dennis Hopper with production work by Danger Mouse. The incorporation of fictional animated characters with the reality of the live musicians who’ve created them and rotating guest musicians has been a lofty concept since day one and has forced the group to make numerous adjustments in a variety of areas since their inception.
Over the years there has been repeated talk about making an animated film, but that was eventually abandoned, then pursued temporarily, and then abandoned all over again. Around the time of DEMON DAYS, the duo took on a larger-than-life venture, attempting to perform “live” shows with 3-dimensional holographic versions of the characters/band members that they’d created. Their abilities to manifest these visual-centric performances were first demonstrated at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Novemeber of 2005, with a follow up performance at the 2006 Grammy‘s, which included an aging Madonna writhing in a leotard. They announced plans to embark on a full-blown holographic world tour in 2007 – 2008 but, due to cost issues and the unreliability of the technology, that entire idea was eventually bagged. In fact, by 2006, Albarn announced his intention to scrap the entire idea of Gorillaz as a functional “band” altogether. With the help of Terry Gilliam (Monty Python, Brasil, 12 Monkees, etc), the idea for a movie had resurfaced again, with Albarn focusing on that film as the primary vessel for the Gorillaz project. “As far as being in a big band and putting pop music out there, it’s finished.” He Stated, “We won’t be doing that any more” (Uncut Magazine, Nov. ’06). Of course, the animated film idea was scrapped yet again and the group did, in fact, release another pop album for the masses this year. Now Gorillaz has even taken to the road to begin promoting the release but, after over a decade-plus of ups and downs, left turns, and the creators themselves losing interest, should we even be paying attention to this generally, overly-ambitious project at all anymore. Based on their recent Oct. 7th appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman and the following 45 min. multi-media performance that they treated the audience to [featured below], the answer to that question is a resounding “probably.”
For their latest concept album, Plastic Beach, Albarn and Hewelitt have recruited such varying talents as Mos Def, Bobby Womack, and Lou Reed, while reuniting on a song with former collaborators, De La Soul. The title track even features Mick Jones and Paul Simonon of The Clash, who have now both become part of the official touring band. My only reference to Gorillaz as a live act, is from their abandoned holographic performances, so I was thoroughly intrigued about how elaborate their live shows would be and what they would actually consist of? Plus, with an album that is so heavily reliant on guest appearances, what would they do about their absent collaborators? Last Friday, October 8th all of those questions were answered for those who were lucky enough to attend the groups highly anticipate performance at New York City‘s famed Madison Square Garden, which actually did include appearances by Mos Def, Lou Reed, Bobby Womack, and more.
On the night prior to this, now-critically-acclaimed, MSG performance, however, Gorillaz treated the audience of The Late Show with David Letterman to a full 45 minute show at the famed Ed Sullivan Theater. With additional Late Show guests Stephen Colbert and Johnny Knoxville, this was arguably, one of the most impressive lineups that the show has ever seen. I watched the episode when it aired and remember that, as Dave attempted to announce the group, he was humorously interrupted with the squawks and noises from them trying to organize their extensive setup. I had wondered why they would go through such elaborate lengths for a simple late night TV performance, but the answer is obviously that they intended to pull off much more than a one-song routine. The following “mini-concert” is a full 9-songs in length and includes guest appearances by De La Soul, Yukimi Nagano (Little Dragon), Bootie Brown (Pharcyde).
First off, here’s their performance of “Rhinestone Eyes” that originally aired.
…and here’s the 45 min. performance that went down later.
Kids With Guns
O Green World
On Melancholy Hill
Feel Good Inc
Upcoming Tour Dates
|October 11th||US||Fairfax, VA||Patriot Center|
|October 13th||US||Detroit, MI||Fox Theatre|
|October 14th||CA||Toronto, ON||Air Canada Centre|
|October 16th||US||Chicago, IL||UIC Pavilion|
|October 17th||US||Minneapolis, MN||Target Center|
|October 19th||US||Houston, TX||Toyota Center|
|October 20th||US||Dallas, TX||Verizon Theatre|
|October 22nd||US||Austin, TX||Frank Erwin Center|
|October 24th||US||Denver, CO||Wells Fargo Theatre|
|October 26th||US||Phoenix, AZ||Dodge Theatre|
|October 27th||US||Los Angeles, CA||Gibson Amphitheatre|
|October 28th||US||San Diego, CA||Viejas Arena|
|October 30th||US||Oakland, CA||Oracle Arena|
|November 2nd||US||Seattle, WA||Key Arena|
|November 3rd||CA||Vancouver, BC||Rogers Arena|