'U2 haven't been relevant since Noel Edmonds gunked people on primetime TV.'
When U2 were announced as one of this year’s Glastonbury headliners, a phonic phenomenon, which I can best describe as what a pig mating with a foghorn might sound like, rumbled in the ether as festival-goers collectively groaned or cheered in equal numbers.
I was with the groaners, mourning the loss of an exciting opportunity for Glastonbury to wow us in its fortieth year. It felt safe, predictable and worst of all, dull. However, it also made a lot of sense.
Whatever you, or indeed I, may think of the shark-jumping, irrelevant, tax-shy perpetrators of musical blandness, the fact remains U2 are living, active legends with an extensive back catalogue of at worst popular and at best classic songs (most of which can be heard daily on Heart FM – not that there’s anything wrong with that). Add to that their reputation as one of the best live bands around, who were bound to pull out all the stops for their first ever festival appearance, and you can see “crowd pleaser” written all over it.
But that was before Bono’s back packed up. Exit U2; enter Gorillaz, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s “virtual band”, which has become increasingly real of late with pixels taking more of a backseat. It wasn’t the most obvious choice, but again, it makes a lot of sense.
Gorillaz may not quite have the back catalogue of U2, but they still have a fair number of big hits from three critically-acclaimed, big-selling albums, the third of which they’re currently promoting, a diverse range of songs comprising various genres, and at least a few songs the crowd can sing-along to. It’s also guaranteed to be a feast for the eyes as well as the ears with Hewlett’s animated performers projected on giant screens, drawing the attention away from the real ones on the stage.
One of the most attractive and intriguing qualities of Gorillaz headlining, though, is a by-product of the aforementioned diversity. I’ll let Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis fill you in: "I'm very excited about Gorillaz' show coming here because they're so open to guests and collaborations.” So not only will you get Gorillaz, but also some big names who have helped out on their albums – maybe a surprise or two along the way as well. The obvious ones are Mos Def and Snoop Dogg, who are already booked to appear at this year’s Glastonbury. Other possibilities include Shaun Ryder, De La Soul and Bobby Womack, all of whom appeared at a Gorillaz gig in London just a few weeks ago.
If you’re still not sold on the idea, at least be thankful they’re relevant. U2 haven’t been relevant since Noel Edmonds gunked people on primetime TV. Gorillaz are looking forward; Bono probably knackered his back by twisting to look backwards.