On their first-ever U.S. tour, the Gorillaz have approached a new concept of live performance. Instead of having the crowd see the band members on the stage, the group has utilized their cartoon counterparts, showing them on the top screen while the group itself performed behind a white screen.
On Friday night, the Gorillaz made their first stop in Philadelphia in front of a sold-out crowd at the Electric Factory. Despite a late start (two hours after their intended time of 8 p.m.), the crowd was very excited and broke forth with loud applause when Damon Albarn, ex-frontman of Blur and the lead singer of the group, yelled out loud to get them moving.
The Gorillaz played most of the songs from their self-titled album. Despite the absence of the group’s rapper, Del Tha Funky Homosapien, the concert still was more than many would expect. All the other members showed up for the concert, including their producer Dan “The Automator” Nakamura on the turntables.
As soon as they broke into their two biggest hits, “Clint Eastwood” and “19-2000,” the crowd went crazy and began to sing along. Filling in Del’s place was West Philadelphia rapper The Last Emperor, who dropped a freestyle before performing his rap on “Clint Eastwood.” But when he rhymed on “Clint Eastwood,” the Last Emp lost steam and didn’t seem to have any innovation to his rhyming by repeating the same verses over the track.
The Gorillaz could have performed a near-flawless performance if they didn’t play two of their most popular songs twice, but they wanted to “give the fans what they wanted.” After the full set, they came back for an encore, re-playing “Clint Eastwood” and “5/4 Five Four.” Throughout the night, the cartoons that made the group so popular — 2D (Vocals), Murdoc (Bass), Noodle (Guitar) and Russell (Drums) — were shown in short interlude-style clips in the breaks between songs.