Announced overnight as part of the Big Day Out 2014 lineup, festival co-headliners Blur are thrilled to be heading back to Australia for their first shows in 17 years.
”It’s hugely exciting and there’s something for everybody there,” said bassist Alex James, in an interview with The Brisbane Times, of the Big Day Out lineup which features the Britpop icons as co-headliners with Seattle rockers Pearl Jam and Grammy-winning Canadian collective Arcade Fire. The festival’s first-ever triple headlining billing leads a list that includes Snoop Dogg (aka Snoop Lion), Major Lazer, Tame Impala, Flume and many more.
“We had a great time in Australia last time,” says the Blur bassist of the band’s last tour way back in 1997. “I think it’s going to be crazy. I’m having my mind blown by travelling all over the world again with the band, it’s fantastic, and we’re playing better than we ever have before.”
The 44-year-old James says playing festivals has been invigorating for the band, who first reunited for a London concert at Hyde Park in 2009; “I thought Blur was all over, but we had an amazing year last year – we were given a Brit [Award], released a couple of new songs, did a big show to mark the end of the Olympics in Hyde Park and we thought ‘let’s get to some places we haven’t been to for a while’ to say thank you to everyone for their patience and support.” “I thought Blur was all over… I think it’s (Big Day Out) going to be crazy.” – Alex James, Blur
“It’s a while since we’ve played festivals,” says James, “but everything about festivals has got better… the only thing you can’t guarantee is the weather.”
Big Day Out organisers have also custom-built a new ‘Love’ stage to accommodate Blur, who will close out the festival each night following Pearl Jam’s set. James says the band – frontman Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon, and Dave Rowntree – were enjoying touring and playing live shows more than ever, drawing from their seven album catalogue of classics.
“It’s really wonderful the shows we’ve been doing, it’s a new audience and a lot of them can’t have been born when Blur first started,” says the bassist; “splitting up was the best thing we ever did, probably.” Damon Albarn also recently confirmed that the band had kickstarted stalled recording sessions for a new studio album, to finally follow a decade on from 2003’s Think Tank. Perhaps Big Day Out punters will get to hear some new material in the mix of classics?
James, who has a healthy side career as a cheese-maker and foodie – including filming a six-part TV cooking show in Western Australia last November – also plans to indulge in Australia’s culinary delights when Blur return to Australia next January, as well as the band’s backstage pass-time. “We’re the table tennis champions, no one will take us; Damon is our star player,” says the bassist.
Perhaps Blur can find some willing contenders in the more than 30 bands on the Big Day Out 2014 lineup, including New Zealand indie rockers The Naked And Famous, nu-folkies The Lumineers, Grouplove, Portugal. The Man, Toro Y Moi, Mudhoney, Cosmic Psychos and more to be announced.
It’s a lineup that Big Day Out’s Ken West calls “pretty magical” for fans, the promoter has been hyping the lineup since landing his ‘White Wales’ for the event. “The line up is strong,” he says. “You wouldn’t be able to get these three (headliners) on the one day anywhere else in the world… we had an opportunity to put a gangbuster show together, we’ve got that and we’re going to make sure it’s the best experience.”
“We’re trying to make sure we’ve got a show that works for the people that’s also a great exercise in building some on-road camaraderie, and they’re the sort of artists that are open to that kind of thing,” adds West.
Maybe that Blur table tennis championship will get kick-started after all.
Big Day Out 2014 Lineup
Pearl Jam * Arcade Fire * Blur
Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion * Major Lazer * Steve Angello (Swedish House Mafia) * Flume * The Lumineers * Tame Impala * Dillon Francis * Mac Miller * Ghost * Grouplove * Flosstradamus * Portugal. The Man * Toro Y Moi * DIIV * The Naked And Famous * Big Gigantic * PEZ * Mudhoney * Cosmic Psychos * Northlane * The 1975 * Loon Lake * Kingswood * Bo Ningen * The Algorithm * DZ Deathrays * Peking Duk * Ben Morris * Rüfüs
and more to be announced…
Big Day Out 2014 Dates & Venues
Friday 17th January ~ Western Springs, Auckland*
Sunday 19th January ~ Metricon Stadium & Carrara Parklands, Gold Coast
Friday 24th January ~ Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne
Sunday 26th January ~ Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney Day One
Monday 27th January ~ Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney Day Two
Friday 31st January ~ Bonython Park, Adelaide**
Sunday 2nd February ~ Claremont Showgrounds, Perth**
*For New Zealand Big Day Out 2014 lineup and ticketing details, please refer towww.bigdayout.com and choose AUCKLAND
**Subject to council approval