Damon Albarn has been at the beating heart of British music for the best part of his life, and his versatility has turned him into a chameleon-like figure who has operated in a manner like no other.
Albarn has headlined Glastonbury with Gorillaz and Blur, which gives you a glimpse into how much of an astute performer he is. However, even he has had his occasional off day, and his worst ever show sounds like a living hell.
Over the last 30 years, since he shot to fame with Blur, Albarn’s expansive career has taken him around the world an impressive number of times, and the tour bus has become Albarn’s second home. Although it was the 1990s when he became a household name, in his post-Britpop years with Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, and as a solo artist, Albarn has shown that there is no end to his talents.
“Most of my worst gigs have involved alcohol, in fact, all of them,” Albarn told Radio X in 2018. “The last truly epic one was in Madrid. It was that period when Graham wasn’t in the band. We went on tour, and I think that was a really difficult time. I didn’t realise I was over medicating before gigs, but I clearly was.
“It was a combination of Red Bull and Vodka,” Albarn confessed. “Anyway, I had this necklace that my mum had me, a bead necklace. It was a very precious thing, and at some point, I was in the audience, and someone just ripped it off.
“I got very upset, but because I was so drunk, I forgot that it was a gig, and I was supposed to carry on. So I stopped and said I wasn’t going to come back on stage until they’d picked up every bead,” he laughed. “I got convinced to go back on stage about half an hour later, but I was so drunk, it was miserable, and I looked like an idiot.”
However, there’s one more embarrassing memory that Albarn needed to confess and get off his chest. “One night, I don’t know why I did it, but during one of Graham’s guitar solos, I decided to take my trousers and my pants down,” Albarn wincingly admitted.
“I was basically kind of naked from the waist down. Then I suddenly realised what a stupid thing that was to do. An embarrassment that I’d never felt before or since kind of engulfed me.”
Albarn added: “I had to kind of collapse on the floor, being in a fake spasm, while I tried to pull my trousers back up. Just imagine if anyone had taken film of that — that as a meme!”
Thankfully for Albarn, that latter clip isn’t available on the internet, but his tantrum in Madrid unfortunately is, and it’s embarrassing, as the Blur singer claimed. In fairness to Albarn, the necklace reminded him of home, and it was the emotional significance attached to the item rather than the monetary value which angered him. Albarn was already struggling, and losing the necklace was the final straw that led to him hitting boiling point.