If you needed any reminder that it’s not the ’90s any longer, the budding friendship between Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher is it. In a radio interview with Today FM’s Ray D’Arcy, Blur bassist Alex James revealed that there is far more good will between Gallagher and Blur these days. When asked which band ultimately won the Britpop war, James replied, ‘Ironically, Noel and Damon are like best mates now. They go off and smoke cigars together. I think we realized we’re all on the same side eventually.’
Eighteen years ago, things weren’t so peachy. Blur and Oasis were caught up in the media-dubbed ‘Battle of Britpop,’ which was brought to a head when Blur bumped up the release of their ‘Country House’ single one week to directly compete with Oasis’ ‘Roll With It.’ It was a cheeky move but one that paid off for Blur. Their single outsold Oasis’ by more than 50,000 copies. The verbal sparring between the Gallagher brothers and Blur provided constant fodder for bemused fans, and the latest music magazines were stuffed with quotable barbs directed at each other. Noel Gallagher famously claimed that he hoped Albarn would ‘catch AIDS and die,’ a sentiment for which he later apologized. Long after their rivalry mattered anymore, Albarn insisted, ‘I can’t make up with Noel. Britpop would be over and heaven forbid that we’d ever admit we’d all grown up!’
Earlier this year, the pair shocked the music press by performing together onstage for a Teenage Cancer Trust gig at the Royal Albert Hall. They were joined by guitarist Graham Coxon and the legendary Paul Weller, creating a one-time supergroup of mythic proportions. The band played Blur’s 1999 hit ‘Tender,’ with Gallagher joking that he had agreed to perform the song because it was ‘easy to play on guitar.’ Watch the video of the group performing Blur’s ‘Tender’ at the 2013 Teenage Cancer Trust gig below. What’s next for the dynamic duo? Will Damon Albarn take the stage with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds? Could they collaborate on a future project?
James also discussed Blur’s break up and subsequent reunion with D’Arcy. ‘It had been 15 years of us doing the same thing, just the four of us. That’s a long time. I think we just all needed to go off and do other things…It’s actually the best thing we ever did, splitting up.’
It really, really, really did happen, and thanks to YouTube, even those of us who weren’t lucky enough to witness the historical pairing last March can still experience the magic.