The Clash + Gorillaz + The Verve + Fela Kuti + Danger Mouse = something special in the Bay Sunday -- by David Downs As the fog rolled in and the remnants of the I-580 smoldered across the Bay, 2007's reigning music moment The Good, the Bad, and the Queen rebounded from an arid Coachella appearance to play a once-in-a-lifetime set at the regal Grand Ballroom in San Francisco early Sunday evening.
A night of top hats, chandeliers and $7 cocktails, the classy event starred Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Blur frontman Damon Albarn, Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen, and Verve guitarist Simon Tong; arranged by DJ Danger Mouse. Stand-out supernova Simonon stomped across the boards and threatened the crowd with his cannon-like Fender Bass, while dark star Albarn's reedy voice wafted up from behind his protective piano. The set list and arrangements photocopied the January 2007, self-titled album, yet the erudite crowd seemed supremely satisfied. The GBQ would've recieved three encores from the enthused, nearly full ballroom, but they lacked the songs to keep playing.
Competent renditions of album singles "Green Fields," "Kingdom of Doom," and "Three Changes" became the crowd's favorite, and Albarn talked little as the band moved through its material with a professional non-chalance. "The Good, The Bad and The Queen's" piano-jam meltdown ending and the "Kingdom of Doom's" guitar rock outro jolted fans with electric chords and rapid drum breaks, but the night belonged to the broody, pensive outros and soulful chamber pieces like "Green Fields."
The album itself pays homage to the damp, quiet streets of storied West London, complete with specific street references and political overtures. It's the blessed routine of the good the bad and the queen Albarn sings on the title track, and the former Gorrillaz creator says he named the project after those lyrics for a reason. "I felt it was an apt summation of the characters in these stories," he says.
The album has been panned by some for its lack of groundbreaking new ideas and limpidness throughout. But get past expecting some Blur+Clash+Afrobeat mashup, and the band delivers something as equally unique while being rather unassuming. It's a very British trait, I suppose and Anglophiles just ate it up.
Setting the tone for the evening, local transplant Bonfire Madigan gave her cello a mean bowing as she got all breathy and mean about boys and setbacks. Band camp girl gone wild or victorian punk ingenue? Depends on who you asked that night.
Video: "History Song"
Video: "Three Changes"
Video: "The Good, the Bad and the Queen"
The Good, the Bad, and the Queen at the Grand Ballroom album link
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St. Paul's Fire
Simonon in Blue
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