Words: Doug Phillips
At the end of 2020, Damon Albarn brought his Gorillaz quarantine passion project, ‘Song Machine’, to life with the help of a huge social bubble, brimming with 2020’s greatest musical efforts.
Surprisingly, some members of the A-list line-up appeared in person, something that their international counterparts didn’t have the liberty of, as they mostly made their appearances as holograms. Kano, Peter Hook, slowthai, Georgia and more, all took the opportunity to scratch their performance itches, presumably to great relief. It wasn’t hard to imagine how that itch must’ve felt, as their energy and mood translated perfectly to those watching at home.
However, Damon’s ability to scout out talent extends beyond platinum selling artists. Seye Adelekan covered for Murdoc on the bass with bold, driving grooves, and Russel’s body double, Femi Koleoso, the late Tony Allen’s own protégé, graced the drums with his assured rhythmic finesse.
Robert Smith opened the show, as he does the album, with a staggering introduction of the title track, ‘Strange Timez’. Sounding strikingly like the studio recording, The Cure frontman made for an iconic beginning to a live extravaganza. The energy peaked with Slaves and slowthai’s noisy ‘Momentary Bliss’ in which they could barely contain themselves, chasing and teasing each other throughout.
Even for those that couldn’t physically attend the event, the amazing team behind the show created one of the most immersive live experiences this writer has ever ‘attended’, quite a feat considering I was firmly in my bed throughout. They managed this with a giant pixelated ScHoolboy Q, a holographic Jpegmafia and a Gorillazfied Elton John, all combining to make a totally unforgettable, multi-dimensional virtual concert and we’d expect nothing less from Gorillaz Productions.
Once the band had met their ‘Song Machine’ quota, they began to dip into their 2005 ‘Demon Days’ classics, beginning with Matt Berry’s rendition of the ‘Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey’s Head’ and climaxing with the lesser-known upbeat Sweetie Irie/Ed Case remix of ‘Clint Eastwood’. A stupid grin was glued to my face as Slaves, slowthai and Georgia returned to dance with the rest of the 120 strong bubble of people for the show’s epic finale.
Listen to Song Machine on Spotify: