Blur are wise, wise Englishmen, playing their megahit “Song 2” (the “woo-hoo” song) as the final tune in their six-song encore. Had they played it earlier, a mass exodus might have followed as it was definitely the crescendo to what felt like a very long performance during their sold-out Hollywood show.
At almost 90 minutes, the Britpoppers’ set faltered far too often in the sappy-pop and drippy-ballad categories that Oasis seems to have cornered and made enjoyable, leaving Damon Albarn’s brilliantly satirical lyrics lost in the boredom. English B-side “I’m Just a Killer for Your Love” and 1995’s “Country House” came across better than most.
Blur was its captivateing best with the infectious, quirky pop tunes largely found on this year’s self-titled release, numbers such as “Song 2” and “Country Sad Ballad Man,” and a few earlier songs like 1994’s “Girls and Boys,” as well as the post-punk tunes such as the new “Chinese Bombs” and the very old “There Is No Other Way.”
What’s more, the foursome played incredibly tight, and lead man Albarn displayed unbridled enthusiasm and energy as he leapt about, climbed where he wasn’t supposed to and balanced on the narrow wooden barricade while fans groped his legs and tore his shirt.
Although Blur and opening act Smashmouth play two very different styles of music, Smashmouth’s rapid-fire set proved to be the more consistent and better of the two. In 40 minutes, the San Jose-based quartet performed 11 songs, 10 of which appear on their debut album (“Fush Yu Mang”). Their ’60s-retro hit “Walkin on the Sun” appeared near the end but the steady stream of speedy, melodic ska-punk songs kept the audience on its toes. And utilizing Blur’s two-piece horn section on “Disconnect the Dots,” for a Herb Alpert effect, and War’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” fleshed out the already good songs.
While Smashmouth was in sync, they seemed on autopilot at times; frontman Steve Harwell’s freestylin’ rap breaks and leaps into the “safety zone” between fans and band — along with guitarist Greg Camp’s occasional quips — added spontaneity, but they also looked as if they needed a vacation and were tired of playing the same songs.