A near sold out crowd of 20,000 welcomed Blur back to an Irish stage for the first time in almost exactly four years last night on the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham. This was the Britpop band's only British or Irish show of the year and that sense of occasion certainly wasn't lost on Damon Albarn.
More than 21 years after the release of their first album Leisure, and in spite of taking a few years off at the beginning of 2003, Blur have assembled a back catalogue to rival any rock band in the world and perfect fodder for a Greatest Hits gig.
Opening with 'Girls & Boys' just after 9pm, Blur rifled through nearly twenty of their finest tunes over the course of the next hour and forty-five minutes, with almost every word Albarn sang repeated back to him by the capacity crowd.
Albarn's effervescence shone through in contrast from the more muted mannerisms of Graham Coxon and Alex James.
In contrast to the more muted mannerisms from Alex James and Graham Coxon, Damon Albarn's effervescence was a joy. From sprinting to and from each side of the stage during 'Park Life', to signing 'Country House' from the front row of the crowd, to giving every member of the first row a running high five towards the culmination of the show.
During the first 15 minutes of the show Blur deposited with some old favourites like the aforementioned 'Girls & Boys', 'There's No Other Way' and 'Beetlebum', before a mid-set lull assuaged the bigger hits in favour of the likes of 'Out of Time', 'Trimm Trabb' and the tour debut of 'Young & Lovely'.
'Coffee & TV' signalled the return the big hitters. That was soon followed by immaculate renditions of 'Tender' and 'To The End'. Albarn's old chum Phil Daniels, draped in an Irish flag, joined the band for his vocal duties on the band's seminal hit 'Parklife'.
Wrapping up the show with 'The Universal' and the heaving swagger of 'Song 2', two songs which show the musical contrasts that Blur work within, was as good an ending to a gig as we've seen all year.
Albarn isn't really one for on-stage banter but the smile that was plastered across his face for much of the evening suggested that this show was about as big a deal for him as it was for the masses in attendance.
Girls & Boys
There's No Other Way
Out of Time
Young & Lovely
Coffee & TV
To the End
Parklife (with Phil Daniels)
End of a Century
This Is a Low
Under the Westway