The Wig Fits All Heads
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November 3, 2005 – Manchester Opera House – Manchester, England
by Betsy Ellison

People should really be used to Damon Albarn’s grandiose plans by now. After gaining massive fame (well, in countries other than the US) with Blur, Albarn started exploring genres of music outside of Britpop, going to the African country of Mali to record “Mali Music” with some native musicians, putting out a (kind of bad) solo record, Democrazy, and, most successfully, fronting animated band Gorillaz.

From November 1-5, Gorillaz played a series of concerts in Manchester. The setlists for these concerts was simple—
Demon Days, the newest album, in its entirety, complete with all featured guests. It seemed rather ambitious. It seemed like it would either fail miserably, or go over spectacularly, with no in-between.

The tickets for the show sold out in minutes, but my friend was able to snag us a couple seats for the November 3 show.

After the audience was forced to watch a Looney Tunes cartoon and had been spoken to by a sort of muppet-like 2-D and Murdoc, the curtain lifted and sitting in front of a screen were Albarn and the rest of the musicians behind Gorillaz. The musician’s faces were all obscured by the screens and bright lights, giving them the anonymity they all were after by being in an animated band in the first place.

The band sounded very tight. There was absolutely no talking to the crowd, and they moved from song to song with no more than seven seconds in between. I’ve always hated bands that have a bad live show. Why spend the money to get the same experience you’d get by hanging out at home, listening to the CD? And this show could have easily gone in that direction, especially seeing as that they were just playing the CD straight through. But it didn’t. The energy the band gave off was enough to make it worth the $80 for the ticket.

The best part of the show was the guest artists who had been featured on the CD. They were the only people whose faces were not obscured by the lighting and screens, and people freaked out, which was understandable. The crowd went so crazy when Ike Turner came out that I didn’t think they’d be able to top it…but I was wrong. When it came time for “Dare,” featuring Manchester’s own Shaun Ryder, the crowd lost it. About 60% of the crowd broke the heavily enforced “no standing” rule and danced around. Then the song ended and Shaun Ryder left and everyone was sad…until Shaun Ryder came back out and they performed the entire song over again. This time everyone was standing and freaking out and I will admit, I was a bit scared. Mostly of Shaun Ryder, though, because he looks like he would eat me.

The only downside of the show was that some of the performers weren’t able to be there. MF Doom and De La Soul were the most disappointing no-shows (especially since De La Soul apparently played at the other shows), but the show was so good that it more than made up for the missing guests.