No one act was faced with a more daunting challenge entering this year’s Glastonbury than that of Gorillaz. Sure, the band’s figurehead, Damon Albarn, has experience headlining the event, as this year marked the first time the same person topped the bill in back to back years — last year, he appeared with Blur. Plus, with the release of the acclaimed Plastic Beach and a headlining spot at Coachella ’10 already under the belt, no band, minus maybe Led Zeppelin, was better suited to fill U2’s void that Albarn’s outfit.
All that said, Gorillaz were faced with a rather difficult situation entering the weekend. After all, it’s not everyday you’re tapped to headline the world’s biggest festival after the world’s biggest band unexpected canceled just a month before the festivities were to launch.
Thus, it was only to be expected that Gorillaz would rely on some of their higher profile friends — aka nearly every guest from Plastic Beach… Lou Reed included — in hopes of delivering a U2-caliber performance.
So, did it work? Did Gorillaz accomplish the near impossible feat of filling Bono’s shoes?
The American media, in general, appears to be supportive and favorable in their criticism of the gig (our own review is still forthcoming), but British paper The Guardian is calling the performance a “gamble that didn’t pay-off.” In the band’s defense, the paper notes that it wasn’t just U2 they were replacing, they were also playing the set Blur did so well at last year.
In regards to individual guest spots, NME notes that Snoop Dogg did not appear live for his Plastic Beach song “Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach”, but then performed Del’s verse on stage for the closing number, “Clint Eastwood”. A little bizarre, but still better than nothing. The much anticipated Lou Reed appearance ultimately sounded typical of Reed, with not much fuss or even an announcement. He just showed up with a guitar and played a solo, leading into his Plastic Beach cut, “Some Kind Of Nature”.
So with the jury split, a few thoughts as we study the tail of the tape:
— I wonder if Lou Reed dresses himself? And, I mean this in both the does he pick out his own tight-ass leather jackets way and does he physically get himself into those clothes way. For some reason, I have a feeling he can only play guitar, otherwise his arms hang like limp pieces of string.
— Speaking of clothes, why does Damon Albarn only own one shirt?
— Even though Albarn has revealed himself to be a musical genius for a while, watching him perform with Reed hit this point home. His versatility is astounding, but also the courage to put these giant productions together, knowing he is not the biggest name and that his songs aren’t all anthems. He trusts the music listener, perhaps more than he should, and it is the ultimate sign of respect.
— With regards to Snoop, because so much of rap is about spontaneity and individuality, is that why he doesn’t use Del’s lyrics, but rather his own from “Drop It Like It’s Hot”? Either way, when I read about it, it did not do the song justice. And the look on Alburn’s face, pride and relief personified, make me lean towards the yeasayers rather than the naysayers that are judging the overall performance.
— De La Soul kill it as well. Enthusiasm goes a long way when you have one song to make your mark.
— Lastly, what’s with the flags? So, people just put flags up wherever they want? I’d be pissed if someone in front of me was blocking my view with their unnecessary flag. Just spend hours wandering the yards looking for your friends like the rest of the world…
“Stylo” (with Bobby Womack)
“Clint Eastwood” (with Snoop Dogg)
“Some Kind of Nature” (with Lou Reed)
“Superfast Jellyfish” (with De La Soul)
Welcome To The World Of Plastic Beach (with Hypnotic Brass Ensemble)
Last Living Souls
O Green World
Kids With Guns
Stylo (with Bobby Womack)
On Melancholy Hill
Empire Ants (with Yukimi Nagano)
Dirty Harry (with Bootie Brown)
Superfast Jellyfish (with De La Soul)
Glitter Freeze (with Mark E. Smith)
Some Kind of Nature (with Lou Reed)
Cloud of Unknowing (with Bobby Womack)
To Binge (with Yukimi Nagano)
Fire Coming Out of the Monkey’s Head
Feel Good Inc. (with De La Soul)
Clint Eastwood (with Snoop Dogg)