Damon Albarn on Blur’s BDO cancellation: “They weren’t being straight with me”

Blur frontman Damon Albarn has opened up about the reasons behind Blur’s decision to pull out of the Big Day Out one month before the festival was due to start.

Speaking with the New Zealand Herald to mark the release of his debut solo album Everyday Robots, Albarn momentarily went off script to discuss Blur’s shock cancellation telling the newspaper, “this is as frank as I’m prepared to be about what happened”.

“That was going to be the last Blur show – the end of playing together – and I didn’t want it to finish on anything other than a very positive note, because Blur is incredibly precious to all of us,” the singer explained. “But I was genuinely concerned that the whole [Big Day Out] thing wouldn’t be quite as spiritually conclusive as we hoped it would be, because we weren’t sure if the organisation was quite right, or supportive of our ambitions.”

Blur blindsided fans and promoters with a statement issued via social media, claiming they had cancelled their BDO appearances in January due to “constantly shifting goalposts and challenging conditions of the organisers”. The band had been scheduled to close the festival on a purpose built “Love Stage”, but those plans were reportedly scrapped due to costs. Big Day Out promoter AJ Maddah has dismissed those claims as “absolute nonsene”, claiming frictions within the band led to their cancellation in an interview with triple j.

“They [the organisers] weren’t being straight with me about things,” said Albarn, “which they needed to be, and at that point I became disillusioned because I didn’t want what we’d done throughout the year, with Blur, to be undermined or tarnished in any way, by a show that wasn’t going to be what we wanted to do.

“We’d been playing for six months solidly, around the world, so I knew that we would deliver a fantastic show, a great performance and a communal event, which everyone would have enjoyed,” he continued. “All I asked was that the organisation recognised that and I didn’t feel they did. So, that’s why, unfortunately, we couldn’t come.”


Albarn, who is currently busy promoting his new solo album which features collaborations with Brian Eno and Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes, said that the decision was not made lightly. “I am truly, terribly sorry to everyone that we let down, but we just didn’t want to be anything other than what I felt we deserved to be – our best. If we’d played – and not been that – it would have let people down even more,” he said.

And while Albarn has already said the chances of Blur playing together again are slim he did tell the NZH that he is keen to come back and play Australia in some capacity in the near future. “Don’t anyone forget that I had an absolutely brilliant time with Gorillaz only two years earlier in that part of the world – it was a fantastic experience – and I fully intend to come back and play there again, if I’m allowed. Until then, I understand I have to wait.”