March 14, 2003 -
Half the band they used to be!
ZONA ROSA nightclub bared witness to
perhaps the most bizarre gig in BLURs
history last night (March 13), the group playing
their first ever live show without guitarist GRAHAM
COXON AND bassist ALEX JAMES.
The group were scheduled to travel
out to Texas for a 'secret' show
at the annual music industry conference. All
week, the show has been seen as the "buzz
gig" amongst delegates, with the band's
identity kept a closely guarded secret.
As a way of announcing who the
surprise headliners were, some fans were given a
free CD, which, when played simply said the
At the gig, an apologetic Damon
Albarn revealed that James
was refused a US Visa prior to the band setting
off from the UK.
proceeded to phone James and ask
the 1,500 in attendance to "Say hi to Alex".
minute replacement was Rival Schools
bassist Chris Traynor, who was
onstage with Blur only 24 hours
after theyd first rehearsed with him.
Blur's manager, Niamh
Byrne of CMO Management
International Ltd told NME.COM:
"Alex's visa - for some
reason - is taking longer to process than the
others. We're sure it will be sorted out soon,
but the paperwork does take a bit of time,
however the band have decided to go ahead with
travel plans this week to avoid disappointing the
The drafting in of Traynor
was one of many personnel changes in a radical
reshaping of Blur. Only Damon
and drummer Dave Rowntree
remained from the bands original line-up as
they were joined onstage by a keyboardist, an
additional percussionist and three backing
As previously reported on NME.COM,
ex-Verve guitarist Simon
Tong assumed lead guitar duties from the
sacked Graham Coxon. No mention
was made of Coxons
The bands 14-song set (see
below), featured nine new tracks and received a
mixed reaction, according to NME.COM's
reporter. The impact of Albarns
Music projects on the band were
very much in evidence as the band embarked on a
more dance-orientated and world music direction.
The most well received new tracks were the 'Song
2'-esque 'We've Got A File On
You' and the only obvious pop-song among
the new material, Crazy Beat.
People's Revolutionary Bowls Club'
Got A File On You'
Is A Low'
The group's next scheduled show is
at the New York Bowery Ballroom
on Sunday (March 16).
In a diary entry
on www.blur.co.uk, James
explained the problem.
He wrote: "It's a good time of
year to be in England. Unless you're supposed to
be in Texas. Having spent the
last month rehearsing when I could have been
learning how to do the splits properly, the
American administration - swamped as it is with
subversives applying for visas - has taken longer
than expedted to process my application for a
"Upshot is can't join the band
in Austin without risking being
thrown on a chain gang. The record exploded
across American radio stations in unprecedented
fashoin. But I can't have a work permit. Yet.
"So, we've decided to get a new
bass player for these American dates. I have
become a svengali of basslines rather than an
actual operator of a bass guitar. It means I have
a kind of Gentleman's Gentleman to take care of
"There is an outside chance I
may be able to play the New York
date from my kitchen. I'm talking to my
scientists. Could be good."