First night: True sound of the Nineties

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The Independent Online
Blur

Electric Ballroom

London

AS BLUR reached their 10th anniversary, suitably celebrated with the release of a hugely priced boxed set and press panegyrics, it is remarkable to realise that for an entire generation of pop fans they are the Nineties.

Having outlasted or at least outstripped all their peers (save perhaps the now-bloated Manic Street Preachers), and seen Oasis, once their deadliest rivals in the Britpop Wars, rather tamely implode, they have battled through bankruptcy, a suicidal alcoholic phase and the pressures of serious fame to pin down a place as the nation's best-loved veterans without ever changing their line-up.

Although the kids did not go crazy for their last album, the unusually revealing Thirteen, the Colchester men have long passed the stage of having to worry about their futures. Their reputation is now so assured that although they announced that the set would be made up entirely of B- sides, tickets were sold out in an instant.

To their credit, they performed exactly as advertised. The 80-minute set consists of no less than 19 songs wholly unfamiliar to any but the obsessives at the front, who cheered every one of Damon Albarn's asides.

It would be nice to say that this estimable singles band have hidden some gems behind their familiar tunes, but most of this set consists of extra-track fillers. "Mace", "Threadneedle Street", "Uncool Love" - and despite the band's best efforts these songs do not deserve rehabilitation.

Some treats did emerge. "Inertia" - preceded by a snippet of that irresistible Seventies horror "My Sharona" - is a wonderful loping theme reminiscent of Pavement, the United States shambling alternative rockers believed to have influenced , as is the lazy, thumping "Swallows In The Heatwave".

Most interesting is the exquisitely dumb "I Love Her". Most bands work their favoured material through time, but this dopey garage thrash with its irresistibly cocky chorus ("She don't care if I live or die, that is why I love her") sees a mature band performing old material with no time for reappraisal.

Still, the success of their albums and A-sides has probably not been accidental. Perhaps the lilting "Young and Lovely" might have sneaked in somewhere, but their finest bonus moment remains that genius Pet Shop Boys remix of "Boys And Girls". Oasis always did have the Killers Bs.

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