United Center // Chicago, IL // October 16, 2018
Damon Albarn brings Noodle, 2-D, Russell, and uhh…Ace… to the stage for a perfect night of music and special guests.
Fist of all, Murdoc is in jail. Yes, our favorite green troublemaker wasn’t able to make it on this tour. But fear not! Ace, the leader of the Gangreen Gang from The Powerpuff Girls, is all grown up and playing bass for the most popular virtual band on the planet. Now that that’s settled, onto the review.
It’s hard to say which is better: hearing your favorite Gorillaz songs live, seeing the famously digital band up on a massive screen, or feeling extra lucky that you’re seeing the band one last time before Damn Albarn calls it quits (for a while, at least). The British mastermind behind the band announced that The Now Now Tour will be a sort of farewell tour for now, but that it’s likely not the last we’ll see of them. For their Chicago show, Albarn and company played all the hits and brought out some surprise guests for the biggest songs.
The Now Now is the Gorillaz’ sixth album and arguably their best since the 2010 album Plastic Beach. Dropping some of the heavy disco beats and somewhat forced edgy style from their 2017 album Humanz, Albarn took it back to basics: lo-fi sounds infused with soft vocals, and happy, radio-worthy tracks. Playing “Humility”, one of the singles off of The Now Now, Albarn seemed completely caught up in the moment. Having seen the Humanz tour last year, I was far more invested in the Gorillaz’ performance this time around. There was still that hint of anger and rebellion through “Every Planet We Reach is Dead” and “Saturn Barnz”, but rather than being consumed by it, the set focused more on finding those little moments of happiness and connection.
No Gorillaz show is complete without special guests, and for the Chicago show, Albarn brought De La Soul along for two of the most delightful songs: “Superfast Jellyfish” and “Feel Good Inc.”. The highlight of the show for me was seeing Albarn watching De La Soul perform during “Feel Good Inc” with the biggest smile on his face. The only thing better than seeing an incredible artist is witnessing their admiration for other incredible artists.
Knowing the Gorillaz aren’t coming back anytime soon, I already feel nostalgic for this show. If you need me, I’ll be reading through Ace’s backstory and wondering when Murdoch will bust out of jail.