Damon Albarn and all his virtual friends play packed out O2 show

Damon Albarn's Gorillaz at the O2 on Sunday, Photo: Live Nation

One of the reasons people go to gigs is to see their favourite band in flesh, performing in front of their very eyes. In the case of Gorillaz, I didn’t know what to expect from a virtual band of comic book characters who inhabit a fictional universe. And I presume that their diverse audience at the O2 arena in Greenwich didn’t know what was going to hit them either.

The Gorillaz world is often explored through the band’s website and music videos and I anticipated that the live experience would involve a submersion into the weird and wonderful workings of Damon Albarn’s mind.

Cartoons and visuals certainly featured heavily at the gig, showing the evolution of the band into a sailor-themed supergroup, steering into 2012. Despite this, it was the music that made everyone marvel last night- scores of musicians filling the stage, backing singers, a string section, two drum kits, sometimes the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, sometimes a group of  musicians from the Lebanese Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music. And to top it all off, members of the The Clash, Paul Simonon and Mick Jones, all wearing sailor hats.

And of course, the conductor, or to continue with the concept of the show, the ship’s captain; Damon Albarn at his best. He was the host and he loves that role. Last night was definitely his night.

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