With a name which refers to the each and every one of the subjects that live under the London sun, The Good The Bad And The Queen is a nostalgic collaboration from four of Britain’s most sound musicians. Enchanting the whole of Manchester’s Albert Hall, for one night only, the power-project cast resonances of nostalgia in the form of music and lyric.
Fusing Damon Albarn’s (Blur, Gorillaz) obsession with music and lyric with Paul Simonon’s (The Clash) looping bass lines and Simon Tong’s (The Verve) tonal hues with Tony Allen’s contagious rhythm, The Good The Bad And The Queen is a Brit supergroup with two eccentric concept albums.
Asserting that this is a project, and not merely a band, Albarn’s The Good The Bad And The Queen is a vessel for writing about the fantasy lands of his mind, basing visions around what it means to be quintessentially British. Routinely declaring himself as an ‘avid anti-Brexiteer’, Albarn joins the stage with a doll draped in an England flag, announcing its name as ‘Tommy Robinson’.
Set against an eerie backdrop which depicts a sepia toned London, The Good The Bad And The Queen perform to a Mancunian crowd, made up of an eclectic mix of Blur, Clash, Gorillaz and Verve fans. Opening with music from ‘Merrie Land’, an album which was commented as a ‘reluctant goodbye letter’ to the EU, the night began with ‘Gun to the Head’. Featuring sounds from an organ, bassoon and recorder, the languishing melody harps an invasion-style pop hook.
The second half of the show was just as fanciful, starring the entire track listing from the band’s debut album, The Good The Bad And The Queen. Described by Albarn as a ‘song cycle that’s also a mystery play about London’, songs such as ‘Kingdom of Doom, ‘A Soldier’s Tale’ and ‘Green Fields’ present a dreamy and peculiar version of the capital.
Flitting between the piano and the microphone all night, Albarn reveals music which bears no obvious resemblance to Blur or Gorillaz, but buried deep in the heart of the messaging, a sense of place and belonging remains prominent.
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We reviewed Suede at The Albert Hall