Situated in an intimate, well-hidden, white-walled gallery deep in the heart of East London, Blur’s 21 exhibition is a fascinating and moving collection of photographs, portraits, artwork, music and film. The 70 pieces chart the band’s startling visual journey, from a bunch of gauzy, bowl cut ‘n’ baggy t-shirt wearing pop-psychedelicists, through their DM boots and Levis phase, past the thrift-store chic, the lurid sportswear and regulation Fred Perry tops (very much the garment of choice for a number of men who attended the launch party, but not for bass-player Alex, drummer Dave or Damon, who were all in attendance) up to the more muted, maturity the band presented on their two most recent singles, Under The Westway and The Puritan.
What’s really interesting is how each of the featured photographers, designers and artists – Pennie Smith, Kevin Cummins, Paul Postle, Tom Sheehan, Banksy and Julian Opie – all seemed to find a different group. There are some classic band portraits and a handful of fantastically evocative live shots, but in each one Blur reveal something new about themselves and the world around them; but what comes through more powerfully than anything else is what an incredible, shocking and hilarious experience it all was. One perfect shot is an overhead photo of what appears to be a hotel room table somewhere in Japan.
The ash-covered detritus tells its own, wonderful story. The empty wine bottles, soft-drink cans, “day-after” headache remedies, crushed-up fag packets, tickets and flyers all point towards a group of people in a mad hurry to have the best time it’s possible for people to have. What’s really amazing is that they managed it. Maybe, hopefully, they’re even still having it.