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Damon Albarn, Gorillaz
via Instagram/@gorillaz

Damon Albarn says the UK’s COVID response shows ‘no empathy with the arts’

The Gorillaz co-founder also discusses upcoming online shows: ‘If we get this right it will be a game-changer’

Damon Albarn has criticised the UK government’s response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, stating that it shows “no empathy with the arts whatsoever”. Speaking out ahead of a series of online gigs with virtual band Gorillaz, the Blur frontman notes that the arts are: “an essential part of British culture.”

“We live in a pretty fucking miserable country at times and we need our arts to uplift us,” he adds, as reported by the Independent. “It should be part of the prescription for our national health.”

Speaking from a hotel, where he’s formed a bubble with crew to rehearse for the upcoming shows, Albarn calls out the government for focusing on football and commerce at the expense of the arts. “Maybe a little less emphasis on the Premier League just running and a bit more love given to the arts would be a start,” he says. “Because, I’m sorry, I love football as much as anybody else, but football alone does not sustain my soul.”

Albarn has welcomed news of a coming vaccine though, saying that the announcement of its approval felt like: “the beginning of crawling out of the pit… in a bleak landscape it is definitely a beacon of unbridled joy and hope.”

The new Gorillaz shows from Albarn and co-founder Jamie Hewlett will blend live music and animation, featuring performances of tracks from the band’s Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez album. “If we get this right it will be a game-changer,” Albarn says. “No-one has ever done anything like this before.”

“If this goes well – because this is a TV show not a live streamed performance, it’s a bona fide show or special – if it goes well then maybe that is how we will roll out the second season (of Song Machine), as TV shows.”

According to the Independent, the gigs will also include guests from the star-studded project, which saw Gorillaz link up with Elton John, slowthai, Beck, Tony Allen and Skepta, and many more.

In Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and North and South America, the shows will run next Saturday (December 12). In the UK, Europe, and Africa, you can tune in on Sunday (December 13). View more details in Gorillaz’s post below.