Review: Graham Coxon kicks up a storm

Graham Coxon cuts a confident figure onstage. (File photo)

Story highlights

  • Graham Coxon serves up cacophony of white noise, but talent shines through
  • With up to four guitars, bass and drums, Coxon is not act for faint-hearted
  • Coxon described by Noel Gallagher as greatest guitarist of his generation

Graham Coxon is tired. He's wet. But he's standing outside the concert in the rain smoking a cigarette and talking cheerfully to fans after an energetic performance in Brighton.

The long queue of admirers, many from overseas, is testimony to his fame, but if truth were told, most of them just want to meet the lead guitarist from Blur.

And if they were disappointed that Coxon didn't play any songs written during his time in the multi-million-selling Britpop band, the fans don't let on. Well, not much anyway.

What Coxon serves up for most of the concert in the atmospheric beachside Concorde 2 venue is a cacophony of white noise in keeping with the storm lashing in off the ocean outside. With up to four guitars, bass and drums, Coxon is not an act for the faint-hearted.

But melodies do shine through: occasionally on older songs such as "All Over Me" and the finale "Tripping Over," the volume eases for him to show what an interesting voice he has, one that was criminally under-used on the seven Blur studio albums. Coxon's virtuoso musical talent on guitar is also richly on show -- he has been described by Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher as the greatest guitarist of his generation.

Many of the songs are from his new album A&E, which marks a return to a rockier sound than his previous, more acoustic work. Coxon seems in his element as a front man: his between-songs chat is limited to an occasional "cheers" but he seems to be having a scream. Towards the end he lets his hair down by doing his famous back-flip and plays guitar with his teeth and behind his back.

There's no showing for favorites such as "Bittersweet Bundle of Misery," off the most Blur-like album "Happiness in Magazines, and while there are half-hearted calls for Coxon's big Blur hit "Coffee and TV," it's never going to happen. While he will always be defined by that band -- who reform again for the Olympic Games closing concert in August -- Coxon has now produced eight solo albums and is entitled as much as Damon Albarn is to a life after, or even alongside, Blur.

      CNN recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      North Korea nuclear dream video

      As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
    • Photos: Faces of the world

      Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      How to fix a soccer match

      Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

      It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.