ATN San Francisco correspondent Clare Kleinedler attended the Blur/Rentals show at the Fillmore Auditorium Monday night (Jan. 29). We must warn you that the intensity of the show, combined with Ms. Kleinedler 101 degree temperature (she has the flu), clearly warped her perspective. This is particularly obvious when she compares Blur to Oasis at the conclusion of the review. As we all know, there is no question that Oasis is the superior band :-) Yet Ms. Kleinedler, caught up in the excitement of the moment, forgot this basic truism. Oh well. Keeping all of that in mind, here is Kleinedler's report:
Orgasmic, it was, and I am not lying when I say this. Whoever says that pop music can't completely rock needs to slip on that condom and pay attention. The Rentals did a superb job with the foreplay, opening with the machine love song "The Love I'm Searching For." Rentals frontman (and Weezer bassist) Matt Sharp was all over the place, and backing vocalists/Moog players Cherielynn and Tanya couldn't keep still for more than a second. If you think The Rentals are just about looking Russian and acting frigid, you need to see them live. The friends of "P" thrashed through "Naive" and "Please Let That Be You," but toned things down for the "woe is me" love songs which included "These Days" and "Sweetness and Tenderness." And of course, they played that "P" song. Even through a bit of taunting from the crowd ("Play Buddy Holly!" to which Matt played a three-second version of the Weezer song), Sharp and Co. kept the audience satisfied, and got them hot and ready for the headliners.
Blur walked on stage around 9:15 to a screaming crowd of twentysomethings, most of them trying desperately to look "British" with their Adidas sneakers and Puma shirts (get a life). Singer Damon Albarn immediately took over, said "hello" to the sold-out crowd, then plunged straight into "Tracy Jacks." The band was incredibly in key and performed with profound energy, with Damon climbing up on to the eight-foot tall speakers and diving off onto the stage.
Guitarist Graham Coxon, who has a reputation for being an introvert, was amazingly vital as he pumped out ferocious licks for songs like "Mr. Robinson's Quango" and the massively appealing "Parklife." Drummer Dave Roundtree pounded the drums with unusual force (and that is a good thing in case you're wondering) and the two-man horn section added a thick quality to the songs. The crowd roared as Damon displayed unbelievable elasticity, grinding and leaping around like a madman. Resident bad boy and bassist Alex James stood still most of the night, but his oh-so-sexual hair tosses and naughty grins kept the girls in the front row gazed in lust.
The crowd was all in sync as they sang along to a surprising number of songs, including "To The End," "Charmless Man," and "End of a Century." Damon even pulled a few audience members onto the stage, letting a very lucky girl sing the chorus to "Girls & Boys." The charismatic singer ensured his acceptance by the crowd when he sincerely announced that "San Francisco is like our second home, if we were to have one." And when the band played a little bit of the Oasis song "Roll With It" (the song that was defeated by Blur's "Country House" in the Blur vs. Oasis deal in the UK some months back), the whole house shook with knowing laughter.
When we all thought it was over, Blur came back for more, playing two encores which, to everyone's amazement, included the infamous "There's No Other Way" off the Leisure album. They closed with an extraordinary version of "The Universal" and it was like God. There's just no other way to describe the feeling of seeing over 1,500 people waving their arms screaming "IT REALLY, REALLY, REALLY COULD HAPPEN, WHEN THE DAYS SEEM TO FALL STRAIGHT THROUGH YOU, WELL JUST LET THEM GO!" like they really, really believed that something amazing was going to happen. Hands reaching, tears rolling, lighters waving, the whole bit. Truly, truly orgasmic.
I hate to get into the whole Blur vs. Oasis thing again, but it was almost one year ago to the date of the Blur show that Oasis played the same venue, and there just is no comparison.
Three words: Blur kicks ass.