Before an intimate, invite-only audience at YouTube's pop-up venue on Main Street last night (January 19), the Blur frontman performed acoustic versions of five new tracks off his forthcoming solo debut - due out April 28 - accompanied by a four-piece string section and keyboards.
He then played one track each by Gorillaz and Blur.
The new material, gentle in tone, was reminiscent of Blur's more recent studio offerings. Albarn sang wistfully of isolation and reaching out to loved ones in 'Lonely Press Play', before launching into the string-led title song. 'Hollow Ponds' name-checked events in history, such as the 1976 British heatwave. Two further tracks, 'Hostiles' and 'You and Me', followed.
Albarn admitted to feeling "extremely nervous" before the intimate industry crowd, which numbered less than 100, though the new material elicited whoops of delight. The Gorillaz song 'Melancholy Hill' was particularly well-received – Gorillaz is how most Americans know Albarn – before an exquisite, clarinet-led version of Blur's 'To The End' rounded out the brief, 45-minute set.