Noel Gallagher joined Damon Albarn and co on stage as Gorillaz launched their new album with a cast of guest stars at a secret London show.
Gorillaz took to the stage at London’s new Printworks venue on Friday night, with Albarn telling the crowd of fans, industry execs and celebrities, with thousands more watching live on the band’s Facebook page: “Thanks for coming along at such short notice. We’ve got almost everyone that’s on the record here tonight.”
True to his word, the night featured a dizzying array of guest musicians as the band ran through its new album Humanz in full, before playing some classic hits in the encore.
The most exciting guest slots came in the final song of the main set, We Got The Power, which saw Savages’ Jehnny Beth, electronic legend Jean-Michel Jarre and Oasis’ Noel Gallagher all appear. Albarn and Gallagher were once at war over Britpop, of course, but that hatchet is long since buried and the pair shared an easy on-stage rapport.
Other guests on the night included De La Soul (Momentz), Albarn’s Blur bandmate Graham Coxon with Kelala and Danny Brown (Submission), Pusha T (Let Me Out) and Benjamin Clementine (Hallelujah Money). Collaborators who weren’t able to make it – and the band’s cartoon alter egos – also appeared on the big screens.
As you’d expect with such an eclectic group of guest stars, the new album material covered a huge range of genres, with influences from everything from dancehall to punk being thrown into the mix. Albarn was less to the fore as a vocalist, seemingly content to often just play piano and keytar and act as hype man to his own band, singing many of his under-stated contributions through what looked like an old Tannoy-system microphone.
Albarn said little between the songs, until the encore. Having led electrifying versions of Kids With Guns, Feel Good Inc (again featuring De La Soul) and Clint Eastwood, performed live with Del The Funky Homosapien for the first time ever, he paid tribute to everyone who’d worked on the album and the friends and family who’d supported them throughout. “One day I’ll sit down with all of you and explain what a crazy year it was,” he said.
Many of the night’s guest stars found their way back on stage for a hug during a final Don’t Get Lost In Heaven/Demon Days as stained glass window effects filled the big screen.
“I’d play the whole album again, but I don’t think we’re allowed,” grinned Albarn. At least fans won’t have to wait too long to hear it; Humanz is released on April 28. And Albarn pledged the album’s full cast would be present for Gorillaz’ headline set at the new Demon Dayz one day festival in Margate on June 10.