Gorillaz - Demon Days Live
Manchester Opera House 04/11/05
Well, the album has been out for a few months now and sold over 3 million copies. There has been an MTV awards performance in Lisbon, Portugal with 3D holographic renders of the characters on stage and moreover confirmation of a full 3D hologram show to world tour in 2007. Plus, the first three singles from the album have literally lit up the charts.
On Demon Days, Gorillaz second album, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett take their animated super group into a deeper/darker realm. Production and turntable treatment comes from the hands of underground New York Uber producer Danger mouse. The singles; Feel Good Inc (feat De La Soul), Dare (Feat. Shaun Ryder) and Dirty Harry (featuring Booty Brown of influential West Coast MC collective the Pharcyde) show Gorillaz really know how to craft a great chart tune but as we know Demon Days isn't all as funky and harmless as the singles. Great music mirrors the times. Demon Days takes its influence from major events/movements of this brand new century such as terrorism, war, an ever expanding underclass, fear and the inner isolation of modern life. Is it a concept album? I will let you decide that.
Tonight Demon Days will be performed as a concept album; this is a world first, in exact running order, featuring every guest from the album including the orchestra, gospel choir and children's choir. 80 people will grace the stage, guest vocalists will come and go as they do on the record and Damon will tie the whole thing together from his "seated at piano in silhouette" position hidden away at the back of the stage. It isn't until the very end of the show Damon moves to the front of the stage to be seen for the first time by much of the audience.
The opera house as a choice of venue suits the performance down to the ground. With its all seated three tier layout. I'm sure the backstage area must be chaos and it is only in a venue designed for such large casts and massive productions that this kind of performance can be pulled off.
The main stay musicians are Drummer, bass player, two guitarists, Danger mouse on decks, Damon on vocals and piano, more keyboards, percussion and 4 piece backing vocals. On top of this we get full gospel choir, children's choir, Ike Turner, Neneh Cherry, Martina Topley Bird, Bootie Brown, Shaun Ryder, De La Soul and Roots Manuva main man Rodney P.
Sadly one of the artists that appeared on Demon Days died in early August 2005 Ibrahim Ferrer, who appears on the track 'Latin Simone'. He is represented by a video of him recording for the album.
Each guest performs their own part of Demon Days. They come and go so quickly that nobody gets too much limelight. The album is the star and the focus is the music. The sound is achieved as a collective effort and the show simply underlines what an amazing piece of work the record is. The mood scales from intimate to immense as the peaks and troughs of the album play out and it is impossible to single out any one performer as outstanding. In the world of popular music this is an extraordinary live concept. The collective concept works perfectly and at the end of the show there isn't even time for a standing ovation or any individual star worship. They came as an 80 piece collective, played as one body and the star was the album. Not the concept of a cartoon band.
Festival Site -