Lou Reed is undoubtedly an all-time great. Even at the end of his career, he never fell into the trap of becoming a nostalgia act and was always on the lookout for how he could remain fresh in an ever-changing world. He was even making left-field turns right up until his final project, a collaborative record with Metallica. When he made his appearance during Gorillaz’ headline set at Glastonbury in 2010, it proved to be the show-stealing moment of the entire festival.
To make his appearance even sweeter, Gorillaz’s touring band included two-thirds of The Clash in 2010 for their Escape to Plastic Beach Tour which meant for five minutes, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Lou Reed and Damon Albarn were all sharing the same hallowed stage. Seeing four giants performing the beautiful ‘Some Kind Of Nature’ on the biggest stage in British music is a moment that makes for compelling viewing.
The track which features Reed appeared on the triumphant Gorillaz third album Plastic Beach in 2009. The record is a lesson in the art of collaboration. As well as featuring the former Velvet Underground frontman, the album also clocked up appearances from Snoop Dogg, Mark E. Smith, Kano, Bobby Womack and De La Soul. The headline performance at Glastonbury was a night for celebration, Gorillaz welcoming out all of the artists mentioned above and put on one of the best parties that Worthy Farm has ever witnessed.
Managing to persuade Lou Reed to feature on the track was something Albarn worked exceptionally hard to secure. “Lou Reed rejected the first couple of songs I sent him quite adamantly,” the Gorillaz man recalled to the Metro in 2019. “But I kept sending them until one caught his ear, and then we got on famously.”
Albarn spoke in more detail to Rolling Stone in 2017 about how he finally convinced Reed to take a trip to Plastic Beach and feature on ‘Some Kind Of Nature’. “I have my ways,” he joked. “I sent him quite a few tunes, and he just said they were all shit. Finally, I did this tune, and he liked it. I’m the perpetual suitor – but also not taking it too personally when someone turns you down. ‘I can do this without you. I’m only asking you because I think it would be cool.’ That’s my attitude.
“I don’t get intimidated by famous people. I just look them in the eye and hope they look back. With Lou, we were in the studio. He’d written these lyrics. But he said, ‘Don’t expect me to follow your verse-chorus thing. I’m just going to sing. And the way it drops is how it is.’ It helps to be very flexible when you’re working with people like Lou Reed. But you want that approach. You don’t want someone just doing exactly what you want. You want that sense of opposition and independence. That’s what it’s all about,” Albarn concluded.
Reed added his special touch to the track and seeing him perform it live not just with Albarn but with the remaining members of The Clash is a titan of a spectacle. For an artist who saw it all as Lou Reed did, even he couldn’t help but look slightly emotional as he soaked in the love that 100,000 festival-goers showed for him at the end of his glorious cameo.
Take five minutes to bliss out to the clip, below.