Gorillaz Live at Rod Laver Arena

It’s nearly ten years since the Gorillaz’ self-titled debut album was released and Damon Albarn’s post-Blur project were sky rocketed to the upper echelons of the alt music scene… and I still had no idea of what to expect from a live performance by this virtual band. And despite the mixed reviews I’d heard from people who’d seen them live, I was still supremely excited to experience a Gorillaz live show for myself.


Little Dragon opened the night at Rod Laver, and much to my dismay I missed them. I don’t know much about these Gothenburg noise pop sweethearts, but I was interested to find out. So you can imagine how disappointed I was when I entered the monstrous venue to the sound of Oooh by De La Soul. Well, as disappointed as you can be at a De La show, I guess… because it’s hard not to get suckered into the rambunctious hip hop vibe of it all when these seasoned veterans take to the stage. You just couldn’t help but feel as though you were in the presence of masters as they schooled us in hip-hop. And when they dragged Brendan, the whitest, most angsty teenage boy in the whole venue on stage and knighted him “Chief Rocker, Busy Bee” even he couldn’t help but relish the moment.


When the time came, Gorillaz didn’t so much as take the stage as they did engulf it. I lost count after a while at just how many people comprised the ensemble of strings (all female, sailor-capped and tight dressed), brass (the ever-smooth Hypnotic Brass Ensemble) back-up (Bobby Womack was just one of the many guest vocalists) and all led with Damon Albarn’s zeal. However, despite this strong stage presence, the performance was presented almost as a side dish to the collection of music videos that flashed on the 15-foot screen that stood above the stage.


The band opened with Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach featuring Snoop, and Mr Dogg made his presence felt on the silver screen. Judging from the frenzied vibe in the room it’s almost as if he were there live, and that was just the beginning.


Following on, the crowd was presented with a veritable feast of hits (Dare, Clint Eastwood, Superfast Jellyfish, Feel Good Inc., On Melancholy Hill, Dirty Harry and 19-2000 to name a few) each matched by their incredible video clips which help to form the identities of the band’s fictional characters/band members and bring their dystopian virtual world to life and ultimately it was the spectacle of this constructed world that made the gig so special.


It’s easy to expect everything and nothing from a Gorillaz show, and in the end they delivered in spades, that was reflected in the audience’s collective buzz leaving the venue. It was truly a show that few will soon forget.