Live Review: The Good, The Bad & The Queen - Albert Hall, Manchester 16/04/2019
In support of their second album ‘Merrie Land’ we caught The Good, The Bad & The Queen transform Albert Hall, Manchester into a fairground of their own.
For those unfamiliar, The Good, The Bad & The Queen are a supergroup made up of Damon Albarn, Paul Simonon, Simon Tong and Tony Allen. The collaboration started in 2007 where the band released an album of the same name, at this point they were an unnamed band. Fast forward to 2018, the supergroup released their second album and were now going under the name of their first album, The Good, The Bad & The Queen. Second record ‘Merrie Land’, said to be inspired by Brexit, sees a nostalgic promenade of seaside influenced songs.
Support came from Trevor Raven, an Organist based in Blackpool. His set was certainly a unique one, set high up in the right hand stalls of the venue, all attention was on him. Accompanied only by his organ and his own shadow, which was projected largely onto the wall behind, he set the crowd up for the night. Talking in between songs and introducing his organ renditions of popular songs in British music, Raven was an entertainer. Following a real Blackpool-esque and seaside theme, Raven dramatised songs like ‘It’s Time To Say Goodbye’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, which saw the crowd singing along.
With Albert Hall being a grade 2 listed chapel, it makes a very distinctive venue for a gig, and that was fully embraced with Trevor Ravens performance. We watched through the stain glass windows as the sky turned black and waited for the headline act.
We were entertained whilst watching the stage set up come to life, a black and white backdrop of a fairground appeared amongst fairy lights, whilst seaside melodies were played.
The Good The Bad & The Queen made their way onto the stage, as a band of many multitalented musicians, who for the most part, just want to make quality music, they impressed from the get go. Damon Albarn is a natural frontman, performing comfortably and engaging through different instruments as the set went on. This is Albarn at his most mature, making it an incredible realisation how his genres differ so widely through his other projects and bands, however we can’t help but love him for that.
What I wasn’t expecting was the way the setlist panned out, it quickly became evident that all of ‘Merrie Land’ was being played in full. The band went off stage unannounced before coming back out to play their debut album in full too. ‘History Song’ kickstarted the second half of the set, before going into the rest of the album. Throughout the set the whole band were enjoying themselves, this is a project for them as much as it is a project for the fans, and that meant there were good vibes all round.
The traditional church feel of the venue is perfect for an alternative gig. Playing at Albert Hall can complement any artist and completely change the experience of the performance, tonight we saw The Good, The Bad & The Queen doing just that, utilising the performance space. Damon Albarn is the man.
As the tour comes to a close, you can catch the supergroup playing Glastonbury this June, if you were lucky enough to get tickets, that is!
Words and photography by Abbie Jennings