I hastily rushed in unfashionably late about ten past nine and Mr Albarn was smoothly crooning to the swing-step rhythm of "Every Planet We Reach..." which seamlessly bled into the harpsichord intro of "Sleeping Powder."
During this down-tempo transition I found myself savoring a crisp-cold, libation in the middle of the The Forum nostalgically recalling my early memories of the anime-inspired band's first live performance some years back. It was rumored that the visual aspect of the performance was 100 percent virtual while the band-members performed behind the curtains. Six years later headlining Coachella, the former Blur front man brought the band members front stage while placing the virtual characters on the LED backdrop. A bold but humanizing move which gave the band a whole new life by bringing out special guests like Little Dragon's Yukimi Nagano and the late, great Bobby Womack.
Here we are seven years later and only one studio album later, Damon Albarn & co. returned to the L.A. area with an ensemble of guest appearances and 28 original tunes to show for it.
A quarter past nine and the hooky, funk-pop of "19-2000" ushers in a large crowd roar followed by everyone swaying in unison from side to side.
The euphoric portion of the night followed as the ethereal vibes of "Melancholy Hill" led gracefully into the ambiance of "Busted and Blue." Cell phone flashlights filled the arena and the the harmonious "El Manana" eased the fans with it's beautiful melodies.
A hip-hop set then ensued as Pusha-T popped up on stage rapping on the soulful new album jam, "Let Me Out" followed by The Pharcyde's Booty Brown who rapped to the kids' choir, trip-hop classic, "Dirty Harry." However, yours truly was slightly let down not getting the full childrens' choir live.
Continuing the rap-dominated section of the show, it's esteemed opener Vince Staples reappeared center stage rapping to the energetic pace of "Ascension."
The star guest spots piled on while Mr Albarn rested his vocal chords. Peven Everett sang his heart out to the club-ready "Strobelite." House music legend, Jamie Principle made his cameo on the new Humanz album track "Sex Murder Party." Then a personal favorite dropped and hip-hop legends De La Soul appeared on stage rapping to the ever-so-odd "Superfast Jellyfish."
At about 20 after 10, I found myself Feel Good Inc-less and cheering for the band to get back on stage. It didn't take long and they busted out their newest unreleased twang-jam "Idaho" before Damon proceeded to tell the story of when things became a little crazy for him. He referenced an unexpected night of when he somehow ended up at the home of Bruce Willis and that being the turning point. The electro-lined beat of "Stylo" dropped and the Bruce Willis starring music video covered the backdrop. An endearing moment followed as sporadic images of the late Bobby Womack filled the the LED wall whilst Peven Everett did the honors of his singing his part and Booty Brown of Pharcyde fame rapping the part of Mos' Def.
The beloved "Feel Good Inc" was finally here and the night had reached it's pinnacle as the tune was met with outstanding reception. De La Soul did the honors of expertly rapping the bridge and everyone's Gorillaz experience was nearly complete. The mammoth "Clint Eastwood" followed with a couple of other essentials including the melancholic "Demon Days" which closed with an enigmatic backdrop of stained glass. The Forum was the church and Gorillaz were the gods.
Remaining U.S. Tour Dates:
10/11 - Duluth, GA - Infinite Energy Center
10/13 - Miami, FL - III Points Festival
10/15 - Austin, TX - Austin City Limits Music Festival