Damon Albarn can devote himself to Gorillaz all he wants, but he will always be, above all, the frontman of Blur, the pioneer of Britpop, and the inciter of music envy amongst his peers (read: Gallagher brothers). When Blur reunited for that brief and glorious summer back in 2009, there was concern from critics and fans alike over whether or not Blur could ever really be what it was before and if the assemblage of this Colchester quartet was merely an exiguously put together media ploy to distract from the fact that everyone in the band except Damon could probably use an extra pence or two.
With the release of No Distance Left to Run in mid-February, a two-disc chronicle of their ephemeral reunion, Blur may both be delighting and disappointing fans because, while it is a chance to see the most candid portrait of the band since Starshaped (documenting the grueling touring schedule that took place from 1991 to 1994 in promotion of the albums Leisure and Modern Life is Rubbish), it is also a fairly overt indication that there is little hope of any further collaborations. Another augury of the band's definitive culmination was the release of Midlife: A Beginner's Guide to Blur in the posthaste of their 2009 concert frenzy.
The documentary itself (a far too short ninety-eight minutes) is more riveting than the concert performance footage, which includes all of their hits, even "Country House" (probably to Graham's chagrin), and captures a certain amount of the same roguish wit and charm preexisting Blur's post-Parklife phase. Wasting no time in capitalizing on their fans' Britpop nostalgia, Blur opened their July 2 show in Hyde Park with their first single "She's So High" (a song that's worth getting married for, just so you can have it played at your wedding). From there, Modern Life is Rubbish and Parklife seem to be the favored albums, with six songs ("Oily Water," "Chemical World," "Sunday Sunday," "Popscene," "Advert," and "For Tomorrow") performed from the 1993 shifter of music paradigms and eight songs ("Girls & Boys," "Tracy Jacks," "Jubilee," "Badhead," "Parklife," "To The End," "End of a Century," and "This is a Low") performed from the 1994 offering that yielded the battle of the Britpop bands.
The closing song of the show, 1995's "The Universal," is rather appropriate considering the lyrics to the chorus: "It really, really, really could happen." Britain's continued admiration for Blur and the rejoining of the band for a momentary occasion fits in nicely with that line, since no one ever thought that it could happen after all the differences and the squabbles. And they didn't totally dash our hopes for another limited engagement by ending the concert with "Death of a Party." So maybe the film's title No Distance Left to Run is more misleading than meets the eye. Because the band clearly still shares a strong affinity and exudes just as much magnetism as before.