Gorillaz @ SSE Hydro, Glasgow, 29 Nov
Enthralling visuals and a raft of guest contributors from Vince Staples to De La Soul bolster Gorillaz' huge show at the Hydro
A Gorillaz show – much like a post-Demon Days Gorillaz album – is no more than the sum of its parts. It comes down to how brilliant and intriguing those individual parts are; that's what will make or break it. Thankfully, tonight Damon Albarn and co. have enough tricks to share that, while not consistently hitting perfection, they still provide ample delights.
The first half hour or so is reasonably standard Gorillaz fare, focusing on the assembled band (which includes a 6-piece choir) and Albarn himself, with visuals – either a song's official music video or a pre-made collage – to complement each track. The first guest appearance comes on Superfast Jellyfish, taken from their 2010 album Plastic Beach, but feels sandwiched in and falls a little flat despite the best efforts of Maseo and Posdnuos from De La Soul. The first half of the main set is best exemplified by Albarn's aching vocal turn on On Melancholy Hill.
The second half begins with a track from their latest album Humanz, Saturnz Barz, complete with a giant video projection of Popcaan, and kicks off a long line of collaborative tracks (whether in person or on video) that lasts all the way through to the encore. Some are wildly successful; Vince Staples brings a youthful energy previously absent on Ascension, Peven Everett does an admirable Bobby Womack impression on Stylo and the De La Soul guys are much more warmly received on main set closer, Feel Good Inc. However, some tracks are forgettable due to the absence of the main guest (Andromeda, Saturnz Barz), while Sex Murder Party is indulgent to the point of boredom as Jamie Principle and Zebra Katz wring every last second out of their time on stage.
Albarn's beautiful rendition of Hong Kong opens the encore and highlights why he should really put more of his vocals into the Gorillaz mix instead of ceding to collaborators so readily. Clint Eastwood is another highlight, unsurprisingly, despite Del the Funky Homosapien only appearing on video (couldn't Staples or Posdnuos had a crack or shared his verses?). Overall, the show moves so quickly from idea to idea (except on Sex Murder Party) that there's plenty to enjoy, but a little more thematic unity or focus in guest choice would really push the experience to the next level.