photo manipulation by nacrowe
filmed at a time when BLUR had reconvened with all original members after nearly a decade apart for a pair of comeback shows at LONDON's HYDE PARK, NO DISTANCE LEFT TO RUN (PULSE FILMS, 2010) finds the the band describing their journey as a band.
and what a journey it has been. BLUR is obviously a preeminent cultural force that found its root in the 1990s BRITPOP scene along with other groups like PULP, SUEDE, ELASTICA and of course, OASIS. in a familiar arc to many a successful INDIE band, they started out playing small clubs and then found incremental successes up until their breakout release PARKLIFE (FOOD, 1994) which found them playing large stadiums to new crowds they felt alienated from.
the two big players in the story are DAMON ALBARN and GRAHAM COXON, the two main songwriters and their reaction to fame, not necessarily each other. ALBARN is shown to be rather workmanlike and very ENGLISH in his attitude of barreling through obstacles and suboptimal situations. he gets pegged as being careerist but i think he is just someone that wants to fulfill his potential and do everything in his power to make his creative efforts successful. in COXON you have a more sensitive, introspective presence (with every bit the equal creative force to his partner) who used alcohol as his way of dissociating from large crowds and screaming girls. its a unique dynamic that was bound to find that partnership eventually grind to a halt, which it did during the recording of THINK TANK (PARLOPHONE, 2003), when COXON failed to show up.
not to get too much into the weeds of business speak, but ALBARN was hurt in that there was an opportunity cost to his involvement with BLUR. he could be doing other projects that interested him but made the record out of loyaly to his longtime mates. the fact that COXON didnt give him that same respect was crushing. and it shows because ALBARN went on to create the massively successful GORILLAZ as well as various eclectic projects that saw him working with AFRICAN musicians and members of THE CLASH and FELA KUTI's AFRICA 80 band and producing various projects. his post-BLUR career saw him spread his creative wings.
COXON put out a series of INDIE / POWER POP albums in the vein of PAUL WELLER and conquered his substance abuse issues and the underlying coping mechanisms. both seemed happy with their position. the HYDE PARK SHOWS for this documentary were a one-off for the fans.
except they werent in the end.
after this documentary they did were scheduled to do some one-off shows in JAPAN in 2013, but those were cancelled and they found themselves in HONG KONG. so they did what any band does when they are waiting to play, they recorded. these ideas were done in a studio and forgotten about. that is until COXON took up the mantle of creating instrumentals that he sent to ALBARN.
at this point ALBARN had a full plate and BLUR was not a priority. but the instrumentals were promising and in a sense it revitalized his creative relationship with COXON, who did the heavy lifting, something he failed to do on THINK TANK. THE MAGIC WHIP (WARNER BROS, 2015) is an iconic BLUR album which is up their with PARKLIFE and their best work. it remains to be seen if this is their last effort but now it really feels like an adequate end to their journey.
this documentary was interesting but incomplete. the story is only 2/3 the way through. if you are a fan of BRITPOP or ALTERNATIVE ROCK in the 1990s this is required viewing.