Blur debut new tracks at Twitter gig
Reformed Britpop band Blur debuted two new songs at a live show streamed on Twitter on Monday evening.
The group, whose last album came out in 2003, performed the tracks - Under the Westway and The Puritan - an hour apart, from a secret rooftop location.
The band wrote the songs for a concert in London's Hyde Park to coincide with the Olympics Closing Ceremony.
"I'm really excited about getting out there and playing them for people," said frontman Damon Albarn.
Blur performed in the rain for around 50 invited guests, fans on the street who had discovered the location, and the online audience on Twitter.
The last time they had played together was in 2009, on a brief reunion tour that included a headline set at Glastonbury.
They performed Under the Westway first, a version of which had been previewed by Albarn and bandmate Graham Coxon during a pre-Brit Awards show for charity War Child back in February.
The slow, piano-led track drew comparisons to the band's 1990's style, with fans and critics suggesting influences from The Beatles' Hey Jude to David Bowie.
Bass player James told the BBC afterwards it was "a classic Blur ballad" and "a stand still and cry your eyes out sort of job".
Puritan is a pacier track, a "jump up and down and go crazy and sing along" number according to James, who was indeed seen bouncing along, dressed in shorts despite the rain.
At the show
The two songs and performances seemed to capture the two sides of Blur - the frantic and the epic. Both sounded wonderful despite the grey rainy overcast sky and were maybe even made more poignant for being played in the shadow of The Westway - London's least glamorous landmark, which lent a melancholy beauty to the song sharing its name.
In a question and answer session with fans between the two songs, the band revealed the Olympics concert, on 12 August, would feature a career-spanning set "including the new tracks".
When asked how it felt to be playing together again, guitarist Coxon answered: "Like a silk smoking jacket."
In response to one fan who said she was wiping away tears, James responded: "I feel quite emotional too."
The studio recording of Under the Westway also received its first radio play on Steve Lamacq's BBC 6 Music show.
Afterwards fans took to Twitter to voice their approval, calling the song "stunning", "absolutely perfect" and "emotive, haunting and beautiful".
Following the live performance James told BBC 6 Music, "It's like riding a bike, it's amazing. I thought we'd need loads of rehearsals but it's just there."
He also answered the inevitable question about the future of the band, after the Olympics show.
"Even my mum's getting fed up with it!" he laughed.
"It's nice that it's a precious, rare thing. So whether this is completely the end or the beginning of the next bit, I've no idea whatsoever. But it certainly makes it feel special."
The two Blur tracks were the band's first newly-aired material since the release of a limited edition seven-inch single, Fool's Day, produced for 2010's Record Store Day.
The new songs have already been made available online. A limited edition double-A-side 7-inch single will follow on 6 August.
They band will also perform three warm-up dates during early August, ahead of the Hyde Park concert, at venues special to the band - Margate Winter Gardens, Wolverhampton Civic Hall and Plymouth Pavilions.