Gorillaz captivate the Mile High City as Denver fans jam all night

By Daniel Paiz

On Wednesday, September 28th at Ball Arena the Gorillaz captivate the Mile High City in Denver, Colorado. The end. There are no other concerts to attend, they’ve all been cancelled after this show, as everyone (even those not in attendance) are transfixed after less than two hours of musical magic (the fog machines helped with said journey). While this is partially hyperbole, the magical side of things and captivation is not.

There was a WHOLE lot to process over the course of this performance. However, I will not write a 25-page conference style paper on the slight changes in enjoyment this last hump day in September. Instead, you’ll get a glimpse into this musically joyous world.

The Openers

The tour posters hinted that some cities would get Jungle, while others would get EarthGang. That same poster made it impossible to differentiate between the two tiny symbols denoting each act. Colorado got EarthGang, and it took the crowd a little bit to warm up to the Atlanta duo. As each song progressed though, the fans were moving and responding like they were the openers.

Among a smattering of tracks from Olu and WowGr8, the standouts had to be “Down Bad” from the Dreamville compilation Revenge of The Dreamers III and “Run It Up”, produced by Snakehips. The former had the crowd hype, swaying their hands back and forth. The latter surprisingly received a muted crowd response (I guess I thought more people knew the song). The energy from these two throughout their set allowed for little rest. The important thing is, these guys sounded and performed better than their opening performance during the J Cole K.O.D Tour, which I’m glad to see.

The Headliners

20 years of listening to these guys still did not prepare me for this evening. The seamless transitioning from one track to the next. The constant crowd interaction with Damon Albarn, and his clear appreciation for their reactions. The smooth shifts in energy from frenetic highs to reflective lows and back up again; it was a clinic.

To get away from the gushing of nostalgia and enjoyment, critically speaking, Albarn and company were so smooth. The fellow guitarists on stage were musical henchmen, guiding their portions of the crowd when Albarn was addressing other musical responsibilities. The vocalists delivered an impressive range of sounds. The drummer and keyboardist guided things along while having small but impactful moments.

There are so many songs to review, because this group has a history of successful singles. “White Light”, “Kids With Guns”, “Dare”, “Cracker Island”, “O Green World”, “El Mañana”, and “Rhinestone Eyes” are just a sampling of what the audience experienced. One of the opening songs was “Tranz”, and the closing song was “Clint Eastwood”.

While I recall numerous moments of musically fulfilling bliss, I definitely don’t recall the full setlist. Hearing songs from the 2001 album seamlessly played next to new singles like “Cracker Island” and “New Gold” was just so impressive. It’s not that other artists don’t do this, but when songs that are 20 years apart in creation blend so well? Not everybody has such longevity and timelessness.

Surprise, suprise

The Gorillaz are known for bringing out special guests while on tour, and tonight was no different. For Dirty Harry and New Gold, longtime rap collaborator Bootie Brown dropped his energetic verses on each track. Brown was an expected guest, but it was still fantastic to experience him live. He also delivered Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def)’s verse for Stylo during the encore.

De La Soul had been rumored to have been on tour with The Gorillaz, but only Posdnous of the three members performed. Feel Good Inc. was amazing live, as Posdnous drove the crowd to clap and sing along during the altered live version of this well-known track. There were visual hints that Superfast Jellyfish might get performed, but it was not.

There were a few artists that I didn’t think would show but really hoped for. The last artist who popped up was super unexpected, as I didn’t think he performed in the US very often. The legendary Roots Manuva came out to perform what felt like a G Sides version of Clint Eastwood. Albarn seemed genuinely shocked about this appearance, but maybe after 90 or so minutes of performing he had simply spaced this appearance.

Del The Funky Homosapien would have been the ultimate live collab moment for tonight. However, I never thought I’d ever see Roots Manuva or Bootie Brown live. That was something special.

What do I do now after seeing The Gorillaz…

After further review, all other concerts are now cancelled. Everything has to be covers now. There are few instances where such ridiculous statements are made after seeing a concert. However, when a memorable experience like this one comes along and brands itself into your extensive concert wheelhouse, it’s hard to come up with any other conclusion.

It’s impressive that a virtual band thought up between a musician and a comic artist has become the global phenomenon they now are. There were all ages in attendance, wearing attire ranging from concert shirts to full cosplay of characters from several different music videos. The creativity and expression the Gorillaz inspire is something few other bands have done. The fans (including this writer) are very appreciative. Should you have the chance to see the Gorillaz, you know what to do.

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