The level of respect the man has for his musicians is equal only to his talent. It is in the paradoxical Shakespeare’s Globe, on the Thames’ south bank, both intimate and majestic, that Damon Albarn has delivered this unique performance, broadcasted live around the world. Live Report.
People from 67 countries have their eyes right on this iconic emblem of theatre. Albarn jokes « I thought that there’re at least 67 people watching the stream ». in this place, another connection occurs. Something magical happens whilst the sky gets darker, leaving the autumn’s full moon as a potential projector.
Kindness goes through every note, every beats, every vibration of every instrument. And it’s a plethora that gets on stage with Albarn. Saxo, electric and classical guitars, drums, percussions, theorbo, melodica, piano, bass, kora, strings…
Getting into The Shakespeare’s Globe was probably not at random for Damon Albarn. The musician has worked on theatre and opera in the past, working on Wonder.land and Dr Dee: An English Opera. His passions for poetry also seem to place The Globe pretty logically on the path of the impressive virtuoso.
On the inbuilt balcony, it isn’t Juliet but a string quartet that deepens the words and the immensity of Albarn’s works, new or old, from his solos, his collaborations and his other bands. The man is quite prolific, we know that, and logically, he opens the concert with an extract from his upcoming LP: The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows. Polaris, also recently released, is followed by This Is a Low, by Blur, to close the show.
It’s a magical event, unique not only because of the wooden place in which it happened, but also for the admiration the audience had for the man, and he for those with whom he shared the stage – past and present: Seckou Keita, Arngeir Hauksson, Christopher Robson, Femi Koleoso, Seye Adelekan… Tony Allen.
His introvert side disappears whenever a note resonated in the air, from the softest that makes him raise his gaze to the skies, to the bluntest, making him stomp the planks underneath him. Whether he is dreaming or raging, it is hard to get our eyes off of such stage presence.
Because we can’t forget we’re in a theatre either, especially this one, the sober and delicate cover of On Melancholy Hill summons, for us, Hamlet. Other tracks summons other characters, and more are the sets and decors in which they evolve. Iceland seems so close and at the end of summer under the harvest moon, it feels like it reaches the Thames with its fresh air.
In his large jeans, his black-framed spectacles, and his white shoes, Damon Albarn surprises us with his energy, sometimes bursting out of nowhere, as much as he brings peace with his peculiar voice. The lights dancing on the columns on each side of the stage are only a glimpse of the mystical atmosphere coming from him. Sublime in his simplicity, that night, Damon Albarn really belonged to the wooden O.