Blur - No Distance Leftto Run
Tue 16th Mar, 2010 in Music Reviews
It was the reformation that had to be; one of the worlds’ biggest household names of the 90s had set aside their differences in the name of quality music. Blur, the unwilling poster boys for Britpop wax lyrical and reminisce in this impressive feature-length release. The combination of candid fly-on-the-wall tidbits and stunning cinematography by Ross McLennon allow the audience deep into the dressing room of the talented foursome, along with admissions of anger, guilt, and substance abuse.
The gloss following the 2009 reformation preparation is interspersed by a fantastic chronological account of the band’s rise and then parting, providing good entry point viewing for those less initiated Blur fans. That said, most of it is well known in popular culture – childhood friends Damon Alburn and Graham Coxan meet Alex at Goldsmith’s College, soon joined by Dave Rowntree. Whirlwind years battling Oasis in the charts, Damon gets acquainted with heroin, Graham gets even better acquainted with alcohol, Graham and Damon have a falling out, Blur is no more. Damon and Graham become friends again, decide to get back together over an Eccles cake, and this movie comes out. We are given little extra insight into the band, considering how brief this reformation may very well be, but nevertheless it is a visually and aurally indulgent glimpse into one of the world’s most popular bands.
The most magical moments include the splendid slo-mo of the band in action in 2009 in Hyde Park, as well as the sweatingly-intimate ‘secret’ show they did in Rough Trade record store in London, and at the East Anglian Railway Museum – the venue of their very first show. Beautifully shot and lovingly edited, the footage captures the brilliant facials of the charismatic Damon and the oddball Graham, with Dave looking like an accountant behind the kit whilst gentlemanly Alex James slings his fringe over his bass ala 1994.
Anecdotal pieces such as when Alex seems to descend into madness during a series of never ending foreign promo segments, and the tour bus footage of sweeping English countryside make for enveloping viewing. The more personal side of things, such as Damon’s break up with Justine Frischmann, the demise into drugs, and any other creative differences are left untouched, which any completist will be disappointed to hear. However this gossip is sacrificed for quality story-telling, abundant visual splendour, and a classic soundtrack.
The extra DVD is a crisp, clear account of Blur’s famous Hyde Park reformation gig of 2009, with around 55,000 hardcore fans witnessing a show they may have thought they’d never see. The acoustics are astounding, and, after all the excessive headshots of the crowd, the footage plays homage to a band still capable of whipping out its hits, irrespective of age and tighter joints. The band members looked virtually spellbound by the enormous reception from the crowd, and 25 songs later, the audience do too.