An Uninspiring Letdown
It's of course through the Damon Albarn association that a large crowd gathers for The Good, The Bad And The Queen on Saturday night, most people probably haven't heard the band's indie album and are just here for a good show. The Good, The Bad And The Queen don't simply let them down, but it's a show that would work best for fans with the band favouring theatrical flourishes over establishing a connection with the crowd, many of whom drift after a few songs.
Kicking off with the brooding guitar melody of, 'History Song', with an intro of shimmering violins and eerie nonchalance, Damon Albarn enters the stage clad in a black suit and top hat, like the rest of the band, bowing to the audience with the demeanour of a demented conjurer. It's a positive start and there's a definite haunting atmosphere created instantly, the performers moves all seem to be choregraphed down to every headshake; while a little drama may go down well at a creative festival like this, it would work better if The Good, The Bad and The Queen's songs had more variety of mood. While the songs are smooth and charming, they're so similar that there's little difference in dynamics to captivate for more than a few tunes.
Albarn takes to the piano confidently singing about dead end towns with brash guitar riffs and tender vocals, there's often a mournful edge to his deep sighs, while the chilling piano intro to 'Kingdom of Doom' leads into another sultry tune with cymbal crashes. When Albarn emerges from the piano his stage presence is menacing in his creepy attire against the backdrop of Victorian street adorned with bunting, the slightly more lithe rhythm of, 'Nature Springs' goes down a treat, although it seems that you're either spellbound by the ambient tunes or bored. The former Blur frontman does little to aid this situation communicating with the crowd little, side for dedicating 'Soldier's Tale' to a soldier who said he "did what he did" in Iraq to Blur songs... quite what we're meant to make of this I'm not sure but it's equally disconcerting as the rest of the set.
The quirky, jerky melody of 'Greenfields' is apt in one of the few remaining spots of unadulterated woodland in Britain, but it's still not enough to catch most people's attention and The Good, The Bad And The Queen are a unanimous letdown for the majority of the casual listeners. With so much experience, you'd think that Damon Albarn would know how to woo and charm a crowd, perhaps tonight was just an off night.