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Blur to reunite for gig in the park

Blur are getting back together, it was confirmed on their their website today. All four members of the band will play a concert in London's Hyde Park next summer.

It will feature the full line-up of Graham Coxon, Alex James, Dave Rowntree and Damon Albarn.

They will be onstage together for this first time since their Royal Festival Hall performance in 2000.

The concert will take place on Friday July 3, and tickets will be on general sale from 9am this Friday at http://www.livenation.co.uk .

All tickets are £45, are limited to six per person, and are subject to a booking fee, the website said.

The band also issued a brief press release confirming the gig.

Coxon left Blur six years ago and the band's last album, Think Tank, was released in 2003.

In a joint interview published on the NME's website today, Albarn and Coxon explained that they had put their differences behind them.

"It just felt it was right again," said Albarn of Blur's return.

"It somehow feels like there's something for us to do again, we're not completely useless or pointless, we've got a reason to exist."

Coxon agreed, explaining that the band were "making public what's been going on a little bit privately".

There have also been reports of further dates, including a possible appearance at next year's Glastonbury festival.

Albarn promised fans that there were more shows on the horizon.

"We'll do something in London because that seems sensible," Albarn told the NME, "but we're also playing in other parts of the country, working up to there."

Formed in Colchester in 1989, the band have recorded seven studio albums and had a string of top 10 singles including two number ones with Country House and Beetlebum.

Blur hit the height of their fame as the poster boys for Brit Pop in the mid 1990s, and were known for their chart battles with contemporaries Oasis.

Albarn has since gone on to form virtual band Gorillaz, to huge commercial and critical success.

His projects have included supergroup The Good, The Bad & The Queen and the much-lauded Monkey: Journey To The West.

Guitarist Coxon released solo work since quitting the band and has collaborated with Pete Doherty.

Bassist Alex James swapped his bad boy image to become a Cotswolds cheese maker and is a talent judge on Channel 4's Orange Unsigned Act.

He recently had a bowl of pasta thrown over him after he criticised a band's performance.

Drummer Dave Rowntree made an unsuccessful bid to become a Labour councillor last year.

Albarn recently gave hope to Blur fans that a reunion was on the cards after the singer enjoyed a reconciliatory lunch with Coxon.

The pair were childhood friends before the group got together.

"The truth be known, Graham and I have been hanging out together a bit. We had lunch the other day," Albarn previously told BBC Radio 1.

"It's very possible I'll go back to Blur, it really is very possible... it's fantastic to get my old friend back."

In their interview with the NME, on sale tomorrow, Coxon and Albarn talked about burying the hatchet.

Albarn said: "Ten years ago Graham and I found ourselves very uncomfortable, very over-sensitive with each other, and it hasn't felt comfortable before now.

"Now it feels like we should be accountable for that stuff and not just have it as a burden.

"It was something that had to be sorted out between Graham and myself, it goes right back to childhood..."

Coxon said that 10 years ago "we were both carrying some troubles, but it was our group and we didn't want to hurt each other's feelings by saying 'Look I need a break'."

Albarn said: "I miss that dynamic that Graham and I always had, it's great.

"And Dave and Alex were part of that so we can't do it unless it's all of us.

"As I said before I would never, ever have thought of doing this again unless Graham was part of it, it's just not fun otherwise."

Coxon added: "It's not that Blur ever stopped, no, we just did other things...

"Plus it's not a reunion where we come back and we are peerless.

"A lot of people get back together and their peers from the original time are gone, retired or died. Everyone is still there, the same groups really."

The band plan to play some old favourites.

Albarn said: "That's interesting, reassessing stuff, finding out what works now.

"That's what we're going to do now and see what really works now, that might mean quite a few that we've hardly ever played."

He added: "Yeah, Girls And Boys has to be in there really, doesn't it?"

In an interview with Absolute Radio, James admitted: "God, the thought of doing it again is a bit scary actually."

He added: "It's good that we're all still friends because so many bands end up hating each other which is really tragic...

"It's 20 years since Blur started this Christmas. It's a long time in showbusiness."

Asked about the best thing about being in a band, James said: "The best things about it when you're 20 are the worst things about it when you're 40.

"As I sat down to appraise it all when Blur stopped and thought 'What the hell happened there?', what endures most of all is the songs and the music and the sense of camaraderie, which is why it's nice that everyone is friendly again."

The best thing about touring James said was "Shagging and boozing... Do you need anything else?"

On the state of the music industry, James said: "I think things have changed a lot.

"The real problem for record companies at the moment is not that people can get music for free but that music isn't the focus of youth culture, celebrity is.

"It used to be Smash Hits that sold a million copies an issue but now that doesn't exist any more and it's Heat magazine that sells those kind of quantities."

Absolute Radio will be selling tickets 24 hours ahead of general release, from 9am this Thursday and fans can call the Absolute Radio ticket desk on 0330 123 1215 or log on to http://www.absoluteradio.co.uk/tickets .