BLUR’S Alex James has spoken of his “exhilaration” at getting the band back together to headline a show to close the Olympic Games.
The bassist, who lives in Kingham, near Chipping Norton, will take to the stage with his bandmates in London’s Hyde Park on Sunday, August 12. The show, which will also feature New Order and The Specials, will be Mr James’s first since the Britpop legends played the same venue, and Glastonbury Festival, three years ago.
In an exclusive interview with the Oxford Mail, at his farm in Oxfordshire, he said: “It’s totally exhilarating, and the reaction to the new Blur songs has been incredible. “It also gives us a chance to reach a new audience, and that’s the best thing of all.” And he said he can’t wait to get back together with bandmates Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and Dave Rowntree, and play new songs Under The Westway and The Puritan, which were written for the show. He added: “The shows in 2009 were the best we’ve done, but I don’t want to re-hash them. “Having two new songs is perfect; it’s the ideal number. Ten would have been too many.”
Blur will try out the new songs at a series of warm-up shows in Margate, Wolverhampton and Plymouth. But despite relishing the chance to perform in front of a TV audience of millions, Mr James, who is now as well-known as a cheese maker as a rock star, admitted he was more excited about hosting his own festival on his Kingham farm the following month. The Big Feastival is being presented by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, and will feature music by Paloma Faith, Razorlight, Texas, Gaz Coombes and Guillemots. Up to 20,000 people are expected at the site on September 1 and 2. He said: “People are saying it must be brilliant to be back with Blur, but I can do that anytime. This is what I’m really thinking about now.”
The festival follows last year’s Harvest festival, also held on Mr James’s farm. That was organised by Big Wheel Promotions, which collapsed owing debts of £1m, including £57,506.34 to 11 Oxfordshire firms. This summer’s event has been organised by Brand Events, which has a proven track record of staging successful food events. Mr James said: “They really know what they are doing. it should be a great weekend.”