The Scotsman - - Reviews - PAUL WHITELAW

The Good, the Bad & the Queen

SWG3, Glas­gow


IT WAS in­evitable that Da­mon Al­barn would even­tu­ally write a con­cept al­bum in­spired by Brexit. He’s been chron­i­cling the vi­cis­si­tudes of The British Ex­pe­ri­ence since Blur’s Mod­ern Life is Rub­bish al­bum in 1993, so he was never go­ing to ig­nore such a calami­tously na­tion­chang­ing event.

With Blur on ex­tended hia­tus, it made sense to re­unite his alt-pop su­per­group The Good, The Bad & the Queen. Re­leased in 2007, their self-ti­tled de­but

al­bum was a song cy­cle about Lon­don. Their be­lated fol­lowup, Mer­rie Land, en­com­passes the frag­ile fate of Bri­tain as a whole.

Al­barn’s ac­com­plices are bassist Paul Si­monon, for­merly of the Clash, ex-verve gui­tarist Si­mon Tong, and vir­tu­oso drum­mer and Afrobeat pi­o­neer Tony Allen. An eclec­tic line-up, but the mu­sic they make ba­si­cally sounds like Blur in their Kinks, Mad­ness and Spe­cials-in­flu­enced phase.

That’s no bad thing. They ex­cel at stir­ring a sin­is­ter fog of mi­nor-key drama and weary ten­der­ness. One minute they sound like a seedy Soho brothel – an at­mos­phere abet­ted by the old-fash­ioned red-bulb ta­ble lamps which adorned the stage – the next a lonely sea­side carousel.

They per­formed Mer­rie Land in its en­tirety, fol­lowed by an en­core of songs from their de­but. De­spite the som­bre sub­ject mat­ter, Al­barn – a nat­u­ral show­man – was in high-kick­ing spir­its. Who says the end of Bri­tain as we know it has to be de­press­ing?

I left feel­ing pes­simistic yet en­ter­tained and de­fi­ant. You can’t ask for a more British in­ner con­flict than that.

Da­mon Al­barn and co put on a spir­ited show

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