Gorillaz: Live in Manchester (2006)

TV Special  -   -  Music
8.2
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Himself - Vocals / Keyboards
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Himself - November Has Come (As Doom)
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29 March 2006 (UK)  »

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Gorillaz: Demon Days Live  »

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Featured in Gorillaz: Phase Two - Slowboat to Hades (2006) See more »

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Must have been very unusual as a live experience but works really well as a DVD for Gorillaz fans
23 November 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

They are the internet band that have created an impact as much with their music as with their Magna-inspired visual style but I was curious to see how the Gorillaz performed "in person" on stage, considering that "they" were fictional creations. I remember when they came out that there was a mystery around who the "real" band members and who had created these strange characters. With that mystery solved, the band still chose to exist in a sort of semi-real state which manifests itself here in the way that the state is in half-light with Damon Albarn himself playing behind a backlit curtain, thus only visible as a silhouette. Only guest artists and dancers are given spot lights. To the rear of the stage a large screen flashes up mostly static images.

With the audience seated this must have made for a quite unusual gig – particularly with the musical range of the band bringing them to their feet one moment but then sitting down again the next. Regardless, as a home viewer all that mattered to me was that the gig worked on television and it very much did. Of course it helps if you like the Gorilliaz but I speak as someone who has only heard the singles off Demon Days and yet enjoyed almost all of the songs in this film. The music is cool and it is allowed to stand up by itself as the visuals are very much just a backdrop (whereas many of their videos see the visuals as important as the song itself). The cameras allow for a much closer view (well, duh) which makes a lot of the stage more accessible that it must have been to a seated audience and the visuals are well worked in to the shots of the busy stage.

The performance is helped by the appearance of many of the artists who featured on the tracks on the albums. The only downside of this is that some artists don't really do much on stage other than stroll on for a minute then wander off. De La Soul are the best example as they only have two short verses and spend as much time just hanging around on stage looking a bit awkward. MF Doom would have made more sense as his spits make up the majority of his track but as it is he only appears via filmed footage. Neneh Cherry is a good stage presence but one wishes that Shaun Ryder hadn't bothered. I'm sure the crowd loved him but he was hopefully drunk because if not then he has a very thin grip on his mental state. I felt for the singer on stage with him (don't know her name) because she was very good and struggled with him – what was funny thought was the occasional bemused look from the rest of the performers that the cameras caught.

Overall then, an enjoyable concert that seems to have worked better on DVD than I imagine it did in reality (although the lack of detailed view was probably covered by the experience of seeing it live). I'm not a massive fan of the Gorillaz and I still really enjoyed the tracks and the various guests. Although the animation is not really evident as much as I expected it all still has its own style. Fans will love it and those who have liked the singles but gone no further should try it as well – I for one will be copping Demon Days on CD soon.


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