Parklive (Deluxe Edition)
Jan 04, 2013 Web Exclusive
As the 1994 album Parklife was stirring America’s earliest interest in Blur, it blew up into what came to be seen as a for-the-ages classic in Britain. The Oasis-Blur rivalry led the news of the then-burgeoning Britpop scene, but even the Gallagher brothers couldn’t have later denied Parklife’s commercial impact and lingering influence.
Selections from Parklife kick off the DVD/2-CD Parklive, which captures Blur’s performance in London’s Hyde Park as part of the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics. With the string of “Girls & Boys,” “London Loves,” “Tracy Jacks,” and “Jubilee,” the massive crowd comes to life. Singer Damon Albarn, who has maintained a steady profile with Gorillaz and myriad other projects, seems genuinely taken aback by the colossal turnout for the show, and he works to ensure that even those in the distant outlying darkness are involved.
All of Blur’s albums are represented and more, with the band also pulling out 1993’s “Young & Lovely” (from the B-side of “Chemical World”) as well as the non-LP single “Popscene.” Actor Phil Daniels, who originally provided spoken verses for the title track of Parklife, is an entertaining ball of energy bounding around the stage as he delivers his contribution, much to the crowd’s pleasure.
As the show progresses, the band plows through any reserves of energy in a blazing run for the roses, driving the crowd with “Popscene,” “Advert,” and an atomic “Song 2.” “Sing,” from 1991’s Leisure (and a highlight of the Trainspotting soundtrack), opens a six-song encore that includes the single written for the occasion, “Under the Westway,” and wraps with an emotional “The Universal.”
While longtime fans may prefer one period of the band’s output to another, Parklive offers perhaps the best case yet for Blur’s work to be seen as an admirable whole.
DVD extras include live and lyric videos for “Under the Westway” and “The Puritan.” (www.blur.co.uk)
Author rating: 7.5/10
Average reader rating: 7/10