The special train carrying musicians around Britain pulled into Victoria Station yesterday and they put a show on at The Ritz for us Mancs. It was pretty darned good.
The idea was obviously cribbed from a certain Canadian tour of 1970 but that was definitely a good thing, as everyone on stage seemed to be having a ball and, at times, they were simply carrying on a jam that had kicked off earlier on the rail tracks.
I’d guess that around 40 musicians and singers played some part during the 4 hour gig, in pre-formed groups or simply joining in with mates. No set-up played more than two songs (and often only one) before different people took a turn. This meant that about 40% of the concert was re-jigging instruments and mikes but there was still a helluva lot of great music (and the genial behaviour of the large, bald, chief roadie made the changes quite amusing).
There were too many unfamiliar faces for me to remember – and the introductions were often garbled – so take a read of the Graun review if you need detailed info. I do know that it started with some great Malian music, travelled around Africa, rapped in Ghana, rocked, hip-hopped, got Blurred and Hooky (and even a bit Kate Bush-y!) before Baaba Maal eventually made a second appearance to bring it all to a final climax.
Damon Albarn has done a great job getting this magnificently joyous stew on the tracks; even though he may pop up a bit too often, no-one on stage seemed to mind in the slightest. If the train comes to your town, go see it. It may be rather chaotic and random but it will produce moments that lift your heart (and the Ritz show only cost £15!). It kept me almost-dancing for the best part of four hours, which hasn’t happened for a long, long time!