The Good, the Bad and the Queen, North Pier Theatre

It's not often a band, their music and the venue they perform in come together in quite such harmony as happened at this gig.

Sunday, 2nd December 2018, 1:22 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd December 2018, 2:30 pm
The Good, the Bad and the Queen performing at North Pier Theatre

Blur frontman Damon Albarn, Clash guitarist Paul Simonon and Simon Tong of The Verve chose North Pier Theatre to launch their second album together Merrie Land, described as a series of observations on Britishness, and a Brexit -inspired farewell letter.

Well you can't get much more British than 1,500 fans perched 500 metres out over the Irish Sea on a 150-year-old seaside pier.

Albarn referred to the theatre as "hallowed turf" - and performed in front of a backdrop depicting the famous wooden decking.

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The Good, the Bad and the Queen performing at North Pier Theatre

He recalled how the band stumbled across the theatre while in Blackpool two years ago, praising owners the Sedgwick family for allowing them to use it.

And the spirit of the venue embraced the music with its Victorian influences plucked direct from the music halls of another time.

Somehow it bought the tracks alive in a way that nowhere else could have.

The Great Fire name-checks Blackpool landmarks such as Starr Gate and Uncle Tom's Cabin, while title track Merrie Land's lyrics reference the sea, the beach and a storm.

Albarn had erupted onto the stage to a huge roar from the audience, and it was clear he was enjoying this show as much as the crowd which was soon urged to surge forward towards the stage.

There were gasps when for Lady Boston a screen scrolled back to reveal a full male voice choir, like ghostly figures, their deep voices resonating round the auditorium.

Albarn was high-spirited himself, switching from frontman to piano and even at one stage slipping into a ventriloquist act.

For him - and the rest of the band - it was clearly their dream too to play this particular theatre, and their own family and friends were among the audience.

It was great to see this old venue (threatened with closure not so long ago until supporters including The Gazette stepped in to save it) at the heart of something so special.

Shelagh Parkinson