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Watch Blur play ‘The Ballad Of Darren’ and debut rare tracks at Hammersmith show

A special night for die-hard Blur devotees

By Nick Reilly

Damon Albarn from Blur stands on a stage with red lights behind him
Blur (Image: Christian Bertrand)

Last night saw Blur play their latest album ‘The Ballad of Darren’ in its entirety for the first time ever, along with a selection of deep cuts and favourites at a one-off show at London’s Eventim Apollo.

A far cry from their cavernous Wembley Stadium shows earlier this month, last night’s date proved a more intimate affair as they entered to string quartet backing, with bassist Alex James kicking back on a sofa and smoking as they opened with ‘The Ballad’.

After a melodic run-through of tracks such as ‘The Everglades (For Leonard’, ‘Goodbye Albert’ and ‘The Heights’, ‘Barbaric’ proved to be a highlight among the assembled audience, while lead single ‘The Narcissist’ was greeted with a reaction that proves it has already become a Blur classic.

But it was a rarities-filled encore that really delighted the fans in attendance and the thousands more watching a livestream at home.

After playing ‘Pyongyang’ from 2015’s ‘The Magic Whip’, the group went straight into ‘Clover Over Dover’ – one of the only times the group have played the track from 1994’s ‘Parklife’.

It was immediately followed by ‘Mr Briggs’, the b-side to ‘There’s No Other Way’, ‘All Your Life’ from the special edition of their 1997 self-titled record and a debut live outing for 1994 favourite and ‘Parklife’ b-side ‘Theme from an Imaginary Film’.

Do you want one more song?” asked Albarn, “Do you want something slightly less artfully obtuse?”, before the group closed with ‘Parklife’.

For now, Blur’s comeback tour continues across Europe, Asia and South America, but few nights will be as steeped in rarities and special moments for die-hard fans like last night.

Blur played:

Blur’s setlist was:

‘The Ballad’
‘St. Charles Square’
‘Russian Strings’
‘The Everglades (For Leonard)’
‘The Narcissist’
‘Goodbye Albert’
‘Far Away Island’
‘The Heights’
‘Pyongyang’ (Tour debut)
‘Clover Over Dover’ (Tour debut; first performance of the album version)
‘Mr. Briggs’ (First time live since 2012)
‘All Your Life’
‘Theme from an Imaginary Film’ (Live debut)
Encore 2:
‘The Universal’