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Blur - Parklive (Album Review)

Monday, 10 December 2012 Written by Katie Territt
Blur - Parklive (Album Review)

The summer of 2012 was all about London and the Olympics. Whilst the rest of the world watched the amazing sports on show, those of us here in the UK got to experience some of the special events held in the Olympics' honour. Music played a huge part in the games and sponsor BT hosted a series of gigs in Hyde Park under the banner of "London Live", the highlights of which were the two special nights to coincide with the opening and closing ceremonies.

ImageThe "Best of British" night didn't get much more British and much more London than headliners Blur, who played an epic set to coincide with the Olympic closing ceremony; a gig that was being touted as potentially their last ever show. With support from Bombay Bicycle Club, The Specials and New Order, Blur's one off night has now been released as a live CD to highlight what a special night it really was.

'Parklive' is a double live CD featuring the full Blur set from Hyde Park. From massive opener 'Girls and Boys' through to the epic finale of 'The Universal', this CD captures the passion of the crowd, the talent of the band, and the absolute Britishness of this unique gig. There's something for everyone here; 'Song 2', 'Parklife' and 'Country House' for the singles fans, 'Tracy Jacks', 'Popscene' and 'Sunday Sunday' for the die hard fans and beautiful renditions of 'Beetlebum', 'Tender' and 'End Of The Century' for those of us looking for goosebumps.

Obvious highlights are 'Under The Westway', a song written especially for this Hyde Park gig, which completely captures the patriotic feeling of the summer and the occasion. And of course you can't get much better, and much more Blur than the introduction of Phil Daniels to the stage for a hugely epic rendition of 'Parklife', accompanied by a mass sing-a-long from the crowd.

There are a couple of downsides to 'Parklive' for me. Firstly, I'm not a massive fan of live albums. If I'm not physically at the gig, I'd rather watch it on DVD. As much as a live show is all about the music, I like to be able to see the band performing, so if I was buying 'Parklive' for myself, I'd be opting for the DVD version rather than the CD. The crowd noise and reactions are also at times more of a hindrance than a building of atmosphere. There are moments where the crowd noise is too loud and almost drowns out the music. Don't get me wrong, hearing those thousands of voices (one of which was mine!) singing along to those classic chorus' in songs such as 'Parklife' and 'Song 2' are amazing, but the rest of the time it’s a tad frustrating.

There were a few negative reviews of the gig afterwards from fans who thought the sound at Hyde Park was terrible and how disappointed they were if it turned out to be Blur's last ever gig. Personally I found the sound to be absolutely fine and aside from the crowd noise, those sound issues certainly don't transfer to the recording. Besides, those fans need to fear not as Blur have already announced some European festivals for next summer, so the end is not here just yet.

As a live album goes, 'Parklive' isn't too shabby. It's full of classic songs that any slight Blur fan will know every word to, along with some new material that shows the band still have a career in the music industry should they want to continue for a little while longer. As I said before, some of the crowd noise is a tad excessive at times, but the recording certainly captures the essence of the gig and what the night was all about. I give 'Parklive' 3 stars, not for the band and gig itself (which were both amazing) but for the CD format of this version of the release. If you're thinking of purchasing, I'd opt for the DVD!

'Parklive' is available now on both CD and DVD.

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