The band held a secret gig and brought out guests including Danny Brown, Kali Uchis, Kelela and former rival Noel Gallagher
Gorillaz debuted their hugely anticipated album Humanz at a secret gig in London on Friday (24 March). The show came only a day after the virtual band of Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn announced their new album, releasing a short film and four new songs.
The performance at Printworks, a south-east London venue, was the band’s first in five years. They brought out a variety of guests that feature on their upcoming full length release, including Kelela, Danny Brown, Kali Uchis, De La Soul, Pusha T, Savages’ Jehnny Beth and Jean-Michel Jarre. Maybe the most surprising addition of the night was Noel Gallagher, which saw Albarn (also of Blur) and Oasis’ Gallagher drop the Britpop rivalry once again to collaborate.
Fans were able to purchase tickets from the band’s website last minute to gain entry to the last minute secret show. Money was donated to the White Helmets, the volunteer defence and rescue organisation in Syria. “Thanks for coming along at such short notice. We’ve got almost everyone that’s on the record here tonight,” Albarn told the excited crowd.
Gorillaz and their musical guests powered through the new album, opening with “Ascension” featuring Vince Staples. For collaborators who couldn’t join them onstage, including Popcaan, Staples and D.R.A.M, they appeared on the big screen behind the band, along with their animated bandmates 2D, Noodle, Murdoc and Russel.
Albarn told the audience that if at any point they wanted a song played again, everyone had to shout “rewind”. As the crowd grew louder after every track, with people beginning to get rowdier when De La Soul took to the stage for “Momentz”, it was “Let Me Out” with Pusha T that saw a unanimous decision for the first rewind. A historic moment saw Noel Gallagher venture onstage to perform “We Got the Power”.
Throughout the fast-paced performance, Albarn jumped from vocals (using an old school Tannoy mic) to the piano and keytar. Speaking to the audience again he said it had been a “crazy year” recording the album.
“One day I’ll sit down with all of you and explain what a crazy year it was,” he said.
The band then came out for an encore, playing some of their classic tracks including “Kids with Guns”, “Feel Good Inc” and “Clint Eastwood” (with Del the Funky Homosapien playing with them for the first time ever).
“I’d play the whole album again, but I don’t think we’re allowed,” Albarn concluded. The range of guests came out on the stage one final time, the screen changing to animated stained glass windows. Albarn thanked the band’s friends, family and collaborators who made the album happen, and promised that they would have all the collaborators join them at their Margate festival Demon Dayz in June.
Fans later exiting the venue were gifted with a cardboard VR box to view the band’s short 3D film.
Humanz is set to drop April 28 with 14 full-length tracks, and a deluxe edition featuring five more songs.
If you weren't able to attend the last minute show, the band's festival is coming up, and in the mean time, catch up on their backstory with the feature ‘How Gorillaz created their mind-bending alternate universe’.
Watch the stream and clips of the show below.