One thing about being abroad for a long while is you often get asked what you miss from home. Visitors from England coming to Geneva would always ask me what I would like them to bring me to remind me of Blighty. And it was always with slight embarassment that I would truthfully answer, well, nothing. I don’t like marmite, don’t drink PG Tips and like cheese, and there’s plenty of cheese in Switzerland, so really there was nothing I longed for.
I still get the same question here, and in the last few weeks one thing keeps coming to mind, although it’s not something I can get a friend to bring over. Blur have reformed, even though they never really split up, and will be playing in Hyde Park in July and I really fucking want to go. Really. I love Blur. Ever since I saw them play at the Princess Charlotte pub in Leicester in October 1990. At the time as any self-respecting pasty faced indie kid should, I was a regular reader of the NME and they featured a little known baggy (remember that) band from Colchester who were releasing their first single She’s So High.
I had never even heard the single, but was at a loss for what to do on a Tuesday in autumn in Leicester, so I went, alone, paid my £1.50 and spent with the evening with the band who would become one of the major UK bands of the 90s. Of course I didn’t know this at the time. Other bands I saw at the Charlotte included the mighty Shop Assistants and Diesel Park West, although I did see the Boo Radleys there too.
10 years laters when the Star-Shaped DVD came out, it featured bonus footage of that very evening. You don’t get to see me in the video, but at the end of first video it could well be me shouting “Woo!”. Maybe Damon heard me and reproduced that very sound on Song 2. Who knows?
In the 19 years since then I’ve seen Blur more than any other band. At Glastonbury in 1992, in Paris in 1995 at the height of the Britpop frenzy, Brixton in 1997, Reading in 1999 and 2003, Bournemouth in 2003, London Astoria in 2003 and I’m sure a couple of other times I can’t remember.
But above all, it’s about the music and the memories it brings back. A very weird chemically altered night listening to Leisure on the day it came out. Tess, our border collie, howled the whole way through it. Hearing Country House for the first time whilst driving to Saint Tropez. Losing my shoe at the Reading Festival. Falling asleep to This Is A Low. Song 2 live, one the finest live experiences you’ll ever live through. The Coffee & TV video (cajita de leche!).
So, to all of you who will be there in Hyde Park, you lucky lot, enjoy – I’ll be thinking of you…