Review: Gorillaz @ Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Gorillaz played Adelaide Entertainment Centre 28 July, 2022. Gorillaz played Adelaide Entertainment Centre 28 July, 2022. Image © Saige Prime

Live performances by Gorillaz have a reputation of quickly firming their place on the 'best show' lists of even the most experienced gig goers, and as the first "Hello, is anyone there?" of 'M1 A1' rang out across the Adelaide Entertainment Centre (28 July) and the crowd responded in kind, there was a sense this was going to be special.

Three massive screens sat above the 12-strong band, who were arrayed across various levels below, all wearing touches of pink.

Frontman and co-creator, Damon Albarn, took his place up front and from his first smile had the crowd ready to go all-in on a wild ride.

With a deep crate of songs to choose from, the set list jumped back and forth across the Gorillaz back catalogue, changing gears and moving the audience through sound and emotions as it unfolded.

It took us on a journey through musical influences, moving from rock to punk to Latin rhythms, hip hop and pure pop, celebrating the possibilities that exist when a band is unlimited in its ambition.

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Image © Saige Prime

The advantage of a virtual band with a list of collaborators that'd make Nile Rogers blush, and the expectation that at least half of the experience is on-screen, is the audience can be treated to all of it, seamlessly, whether they are there in person or not.

'Strange Timez' revealed Robert Smith resplendent as the moon and spinning our minds with an irresistible hook, Popcaan rapped along on 'Saturnz Barz', Slowthai danced on screen for 'Momentary Bliss', and Albarn donned love-heart goggles to complement Elton John's specs for a piano duel we never knew we needed on 'The Pink Phantom'.

Of course, there were special guests on stage too, with support artist Moonchild Sannelly jumping up for a high-energy shake through 'With Love To An Ex', EARTHGANG bouncing on stage for 'Opium', Bootie Brown on 'Dirty Harry' and 'Stylo', and Sweetie Irie turning up 'Clint Eastwood' from the smooth groove we know to an all out jump-fest!

The elation of the band on stage was infectious and the energy in the room was pure positivity, yet we couldn't step away from the deeper messages which explored the aspects of a world that isn't quite right.

Jamie Hewlett's phenomenal rendering of the virtual band and their post-apocalyptic world forced the audience to dig a little deeper as they travel through broken landscapes, wars and the mess and damage caused by an uncaring and unseeing population.

It's overwhelming and powerful, especially when brought into clear focus with songs like 'O Green World' and 'Pirate Jet' laying it all bare.

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Image © Saige Prime

Latest single, 'Cracker Island', was a highlight, with a dive into psychedelia as mind-melting images overwhelmed the screens, and there was plenty of bounce, joy, and colour that got everyone moving as unstoppable grooves of '19-2000' and 'Feel Good Inc.' dropped into the mix.

Throughout the night Albarn swapped mics and processors on his voice, slowed things down behind piano keys, ground out solid guitar riffs and hypnotised with the melodica.

He also shared a series of Australian revelations – including his discovery of drop bears, swooping magpies ("they've trained them out of that in Britain") and a moment of shared meditation as he led the crowd in three deep 'ohms'.

The band were rock-solid and clearly having fun and riffing off one another's energy, Albarn brought everyone together and radiated a sense of gratitude that rippled through the crowd.

Wrapping up with 'Demon Days', the cracking two-hour show proved why Gorillaz have become a favourite of live music lovers, as they wove excellent musicianship, provocative ideas and powerful images into an experience that's impossible to forget.

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Image © Saige Prime

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