Blur: No Distance Left To Run

****Brit-pop heroes reunite and take a good look at themselves

Director: Dylan Southern & Will Lovelace

You get the feeling when Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon agreed to bury the hatchet and get the band together for a handful of gigs, neither one of them had any other plans than to get on stage with each other and give their fans one last chance to hear their songs in concert. The first few scenes in this documentary, shot just as the band reconvened last year, show the two musicians, particularly Albarn, in a state of resignation. It’s as if they felt the reunion was an unavoidable inevitability and the quicker they did it, the sooner they could get back to doing what they really wanted to do. But the presence of the documentary crew seems to have had an effect on the band. By the end of this excellent film both the audience and the participants come away with a new appreciation of Blur and what they accomplished a decade or so ago.

Combining new interviews with archival footage, the filmmakers tell the story of how Blur got it start twenty years ago. An early, failed U.S. tour reveals how bad management decisions and a gruelling tour schedule can suck the life out of a band. Fortunately, they survived and by 1995 became one of the biggest bands in Britain. Their high-publicized feud with fellow Brit-poppers Oasis is given a good going over…Albarn remembers how he couldn’t walk down the street without folks blasting Oasis tunes from their apartments just to give him a hard time.

Graham Coxon, who left the band, or was asked to leave, depending on who’s telling the story, takes this opportunity to look inside himself and his motivations for splitting from the group. By the late 90s he was tired of the band’s musical direction and steered the group away from their very British sound and moved them closer to what was happening on the American indie scene after hearing bands like Pavement. But Coxon also had a serious drinking problem that caused him to miss rehearsals and generally annoy his band mates. By this time Albarn was finding success outside of Blur with Gorillaz. When Blur was set to record what would be their final album in 2002, Albarn was there solely out of a sense of obligation to the other members of the band, while Coxon was a mess.

The reunion and this documentary have given the four musicians an opportunity to work out their points of difference and in Coxon’s words, “get my friends back.”

The second disc shows the results of the reunion as the band plays a triumphant set in London’s Hyde Park.