Blur in 1995 was at their scintillating best following a hattrick of splendid albums and there was absolutely no stopping them. The same goes for their live shows as well as this riotous rendition of ‘Charmless Man from Le Bataclan in Paris can attest to.
Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree had achieved national treasure status following their ascendancy into cultural icons off the back of the rich successes of Modern Life Is Rubbish, Parklife and The Great Escape — which had provided them with two number one albums in a matter of years.
Their 1995 tour saw them hit the road straight after releasing The Great Escape which spawned singles that were made to be played in the live arena such as the poignant ‘The Universal’ and jovial ‘Country House’ but the chaotic ‘Charmless Man’ caused a frantic frenzy in the crowd wherever they performed in the world.
Prior to their huge UK arena dates which concluded with an electrifying show at London’s Wembley Arena, Blur played a more intimate theatre tour across Europe which got their match fitness up to scratch in time for their celebratory homecoming jaunt.
Thankfully, there were cameras on hand to capture their remarkable performance at Paris’ Le Bataclan and it is the picture of a band at the peak of their powers bringing Britpop to Europe who was falling head over heels for them just like we already had done in Britain.
The story behind ‘Charmless Man‘ is about as Britpop as you can get, as it rumoured to be about Albarn’s girlfriend at the time Elastica’s Justine Frischmann and a dig at her previous partner Suede’s Brett Anderson — a love triangle made up entirely of indie royalty.
Albarn later turned his back on the track, as it reminded him of “a dark and confused time” that was filled with frequent panic attacks. His anxious state wasn’t helped at all when notorious London gangster Ronnie Kray then began sending flowers to the band for mentioning him in the song which could have been taken as a compliment or a warning.
‘Charmless Man’ is one of the true definitive Britpop anthems that epitomised that era that still so many are pining its loss still, even 25 years later. This was the last true album in the mould of the sub-genre by Blur who went on to advance their sound following The Great Escape and their innovativeness is partly why they knew are revered as highly as they are today.
Check out the rioutous performance of ‘Charmless Man’ from October 1995, below.