Taking a gamble on the Patriot Center worked out to my advantage - and my risk paid off big time. Gorillaz brought it hard last Monday- it was a fantastic show! Our seats turned out to be great, fifth row was excellent. I will definitely visit that crap venue again so long as I get seats like that.
The show kicked off with Virginia Beach's own N*E*R*D (reprezentin' the 757 baby!). The young crowd was mostly disinterested save for a few pockets of avid fans. However, Pharrell and company delivered an energetic, exciting set. By the end of their set, the crowd was feeling it and everyone was on their feet, including myself. Their mix of rock and rap is in sync with what the Gorillaz do so it turned out to be a perfect choice of an opening act. N*E*R*D did exactly what an opening act is supposed to do: get the crowd psyched up for the headliner and maybe garner a few fans in the process. They won me over - I've already got a copy of their last album and I'm anxious to get the new upcoming record, too.
No more playing behind screens, overshadowed by their cartoon avatars. This time the Gorillaz band was front and center, alive and kicking with full force. The band consisted of a full string section, 4 backup singers, drums and keys and guitars and probably more stuff that I missed. The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble played a number of songs. Best of all was the presence of Clash alumni Paul Simonon and Mick Jones who played throughout the entire show. Then there was ringmaster Damon Albarn, former Blur singer and one of my musical heroes. When Damon took the stage, I went completely nuts. I turned into a squealing teenager, just thrilled to little bits and pieces over the presence of the delicious pop idol.
The rotating cast of guest artists included:
legendary 70s soul singer Bobby Womack
trailblazing rap group De La Soul
gorgeous singer Little Dragon
UK rappers Kano & Bashy
more rappers and....
As we were driving to Fairfax, I told my husband that I would probably pee myself if Mos Def showed up. I didn't lose bladder control, but I sure did lose my mind. I went absolutely nutso when Mos Def was announced. Somehow I had missed the fact that Mos Def would be joining Gorillaz on 3 dates, one of which was my Fairfax date. I have a bit of a crush on Mr. Def ever since Be Kind Rewind. He looked so dapper in his sea captain suit and hat! What a thrill it was getting to hear Stylo performed live with both Mos Def and Bobby Womack, plus my favorite Plastic Beach track, "Sweepstakes" performed live along with the brass ensemble.
I'm not a terrific writer, thus it's difficult for me to put into words how thrilling the live show was and how great the scale of it really turned out to be. I have posted some of my photos here but I was a bit far away to be taking nice photos with a little point & click that I hadn't really used before. Still, they are not terrible pictures given the circumstances. Also, it's such a delight to be able to say that I myself took photos of Mos Def, Mick Jones & Damon Albarn.
Gorillaz left me woozy and spinning in the very best way. The 1.5 hrs that they played was incredible and I danced and danced every moment that I wasn't trying to take crappy pictures. (See photos above & below for crap reference)
Apparently Jamie Hewlett was ushered onstage after the Madison Square Garden show in NYC. That would have been the cherry on top for me since I have another yet another crush on Hewlett (see his visit to The Colbert Report here... even though the guy doesn't speak he's just ridiculously lovely). Unfortunately, if he was there he remained behind the curtain. Ah well, I suppose I can't have everything. It was nevertheless a terrific, memorable evening and perhaps the best large-scale concert that I've ever attended.